Sometimes, people contest wills if they think that they have been treated unfairly. They might not receive the bequests they expected or they might not receive any of the estate at all.
One way to do this is to show that the deceased didn't have testamentary capacity when they made their will. What is testamentary capacity? When can you use it to contest a will?
What Is Testamentary Capacity?
The fact that someone makes a will doesn't mean that the document is legally valid. You have to follow the correct procedures for a start; you also have to be mentally capable of deciding what happens with your estate.
If someone makes a will at a time when they aren't mentally competent, then the will might not stand. They don't have the capacity to make rational judgements about what happens to their estate.
If this happens, then other people who might have benefited from the will can challenge it. They can claim that the deceased didn't have the testamentary capacity to make a reasonable will.
When Might You Use a Testamentary Capacity Challenge?
An individual's mental state is a key factor here. To make a successful challenge, the deceased must have had impaired judgment, memory, and/or understanding of their actions when they made their will.
Often, this rule applies to people who have cognitive difficulties from illnesses or conditions. For example, someone suffering from dementia or a psychological condition might not be able to make rational estate planning decisions.
So, you might contest a will on this basis if you believe that the deceased didn't understand what they were doing. They might not have had a competent understanding of their estate and what is included. Or, they might have been unable to recognise the people they would normally give provision to. They might have changed their will to leave inappropriate bequests.
How Do You Use Mental Incapacity to Challenge a Will?
If a court agrees that someone didn't have the right levels of testamentary capacity, then they can overturn the will. However, you have to prove that the individual wasn't in a fit condition to make these decisions at the time they made the will.
You need to give medical or professional proof that the deceased wasn't in their right mind at the time. This can be a complex legal process, so it pays to retain a wills and estate lawyer.
A deceased estates service can assess whether you have a case. If you do, then they can give you the help you need to contest the will.