Valid Reasons to Contest a Will in Virginia
Occasionally, heirs to estates get blindsided by the contents of a loved one’s will. But being surprised or offended by the contents of a will is not a valid reason to challenge the will’s validity.
Before engaging in a will contest, you should know the several legal grounds that allow you to challenge the validity of a will in Virginia.
Improper signatures (or lack of signatures)
Every state has specific rules regarding how a will must be signed. In Virginia, a will must be signed by the testator or by someone other than the testator but in the presence of the testator by his or her direction. Two witnesses who are not beneficiaries must also sign the will in the presence of the testator and at his or her direction. A failure to meet these stipulations results in an invalid will.
Lack of testamentary capacity
There are three elements to testamentary capacity (the testator being of sound mind when drafting the will) that must be fulfilled for the will to be valid:
- The testator understands the nature and value of his or her owned assets
- The testator understands who should inherit those assets
- The testator understands the legal effect of signing a will
Just because a person has signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease does not mean he or she lacks testamentary capacity. That individual could very well still be lucid.
If the testator was the victim of any undue influence in signing the will, the document is invalid. This is an especially common issue with elderly people who sign a will and are mentally and physically weakened. The severe stress or duress caused by this influence could cause them to make decisions they otherwise would not have.
The will is otherwise fraudulent
An example of a fraudulent will is one that the testator was tricked into signing or was deceived as to the contents of the document before signing.