4 Reasons a Will Might Be Contested

Understanding your rights as an heir or beneficiary is challenging under the best of circumstances, and it is even more difficult when you’re trying to secure your inheritance from thousands of miles away. If you are inheriting property overseas, there are several reasons that you or another beneficiary may contest the Will. This can delay the disbursement of assets and, if successful, change how assets are allocated.

1.  The Will Is Drafted Incorrectly Under Federal Law

Every country has strict requirements for how a Will must be drafted. In Germany, for example, a Will must be either handwritten and signed (holographic will) or declared to a German notary. If the Will does not comply with the strict formal requirements or does not include the proper information, heirs may contest it.

2. The Will Doesn’t Meet Local Legal Requirements

Beyond country-level requirements, many local municipalities have additional requirements for a Will to be considered valid. In the United States, for example, a state may require that a Will be signed in the presence of multiple witnesses to be valid. This is one reason that it’s crucial to work with estate planning attorneys who are familiar with federal and local laws in each place where you own property. They can ensure that your Will is legally enforceable in each jurisdiction, limiting potential challenges and delays for beneficiaries.

3. The Decedent Was Unduly Influenced by Another Party

If the individual writing the Will was unduly influenced by someone else, the Will could be considered invalid. This is unfortunately common; seniors and seriously ill individuals are often targeted by those who prey on vulnerable people. It can be difficult to contest a Will this way, depending on the relevant country’s laws. Those who contest the Will typically need evidence that another individual interfered with the decedent with the intent of influencing their Will. A court may determine that an individual was influenced by another person if the other party paid for the Will, attempted to negotiate the terms of the Will with the individual’s legal counsel, and isolated the victim from loved ones.

4. The Will Was Fraudulently Signed

On a similar note, some individuals try to trick testators into signing fraudulent Wills that don’t reflect their final wishes. A testator may be particularly vulnerable if they are elderly, are mentally incapacitated, or do not have an attorney to protect them from signing fraudulent documents. Someone may trick a testator into signing a Will by telling them it is a property deed, power of attorney form, or paperwork outlining their medical care preferences.

If you believe your loved one’s Will may be invalid, you should retain legal counsel who can help you with the next steps. Contact Graf & Partners, LLP to discuss your options.

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International Probate by Graf Legal

The team at Graf & Partners, LLP offers extensive experience in many areas of international law, putting them in a unique position to help American clients who own property in multiple countries or inherit property from loved ones abroad.

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