As readers of this Tennessee legal blog know, having an up-to-date estate plan is an excellent idea for anyone who wants to have control over the disposition of their assets when they pass on. As a prior post on this blog noted, those who die without estate plans may see their wealth and assets distributed based upon the state’s laws of intestacy and those laws may not always coincide with the desires of individuals. An estate plan can help individuals protect their wishes for how they desire to see their estates’ distributed.
However, in some cases, even individuals who take the time for estate planning will experience problems with the distributions of their estates after their deaths. This is particularly true when the decedents’ heirs elect to challenge their wills and to attempt to have testamentary documents set aside. This post will examine some of the reasons that wills may be challenged after their creators’ deaths.
One of the main reasons that wills get challenged is because their creators somehow ended up with multiple wills. A person may draft a will, and then create a second one years later after the circumstances of their life change. Without disavowing the first will, there may be questions as to which will should control the disposition of the decedent’s estate.
Additionally, wills can be challenged if it is believed that the creators did not have the requisite capacity to execute their wills. Wills that are created under duress, based on fraud or through illegal means may also be challenged and potentially set aside by probate courts.
The goal of a will is to provide a person with control over how their assets will be given out once they have passed on. Problems with how wills are drafted, the circumstances under which they are executed, and other issues can create the bases for challenges that can complicate the interpretation of wills.