There are six primary reasons why wills are legally contested. These prominent reasons may factor into your current situation, and they can serve to help you better understand the law in this regard.
If you find yourself in a situation to possibly want to contest a will, make sure you seek qualified legal counsel to determine your best course of action.
1. Was not executed correctly
One of the more common grounds for contesting a will in Manitoba is when the will was not executed correctly. For example, the will needs to be signed with two witnesses present who have no financial gain or attachment to the will. A beneficiary or a spouse of the beneficiary cannot act as a witness. If the will was not executed correctly with the proper witnesses, that could be grounds for contesting the will’s validity.
2. Mistakes in the will
It’s not uncommon for wills to contain errors or mistakes. This is especially true if the will was created from a boiler plate template, like those that you’d find online. Whereas a lawyer would review and carefully assess the final will before executing it, do-it-yourself wills commonly do not address unique facts of the testator’s situation or have generic provisions that cause confusion and ambiguity, either of which could be a reason to contest the will.
Another area that provides grounds to contest a will in Manitoba is when there are clear signs of fraud. For example, a forged signature, white-out areas, non-certified copies and other instances are all signals that the will may be fraudulent, forged, coerced or invalid.
Perhaps the most common ground to contest a will in Manitoba is capacity. If the will has been drafted during the twilight of a senior years of life, the mental capacity of that person can be placed into question. To have proper capacity, the person signing the will needs to understand what it means and be deemed to be in good mental health at the time of signing. A late-drawn will from an aging person, or a person suffering from a mental disability, can sometimes be questioned on grounds of the capacity of that person.
5. Undue influence
In some cases, a will can be contested on the grounds that there was “undue influence.” For example, a 90-year-old millionaire marries a 21-year-old model late in life and has the will redone or updated to leave his entire inheritance to her. If the new will completely alters the intentions of the original will, it may be possible to prove that there was undue influence.
6. Dependents challenge the will
Minor children and spouses must be provided for in a will in Manitoba, and cannot be disinherited expect in exceptional circumstances. Others who can also show that they are dependents may qualify under this law, too. While dependents receive amounts that are stipulated by law, something that varies between provinces, when a will disinherits a dependent, it’s generally challengeable in court.
Visionary Law Corporation has represented clients with the process of contesting a will in Manitoba since 2006. Our firm can help you determine if you have legal grounds for contesting the will and guide you through the entire legal process. Contact us today to schedule a 30 minutes initial consultation.