Under PA law, there are different ways that you can contest a Will. The first step is determining if you are in the position to contest the will, or if you have "standing." Then, it is up to a Judge to decide if the Will should be upheld or if the challenge is valid. The challenger of the will is usually a disgruntled relative or friend of the testator who wants his/her fair share under the will. They believe that they were entitled to a share of the testator's estate, and thus, take this matter to the court
A person must first have standing to challenge a will. This means that under Pennsylvania law, that person must have something to gain or lose by challenging the document itself. This means that a person cannot decide to contest another person's will out of the blue unless they will be losing a share of the estate or gaining a share of the estate by challenging the will.
In order to challenge a will, you also must have grounds to do so. Forgery is one method of challenging a will based on the fact that the testator did not sign the will himself or herself. This is not a likely will challenge because it is tough to prove forgery. Another more common will challenge is for lack of mental capacity. This requires the PA court to determine if the testator had the necessary mental capacity to know what he or she was doing at the time they signed the will. Typically, the phrase "being of sound mind" is used to describe the mental clarity necessary in order to execute a will. If a person is not as mentally sharp as they once were or cannot handle all of their financial affairs alone does not mean that they are necessarily not of sound mind to make a will. And, old age is not enough under PA law.
Undue influence is another way to challenge a will. This requires a determination of whether the testator was heavily persuaded by someone to include a certain provision in the will to that person's benefit - and this provision would not have otherwise been included by the testator. This is usually evidence through threats, coercion, or misrepresentations.
If you have questions about challenging a will in PA, contact our Pittsburgh Wills Attorneys today!