Understanding the 3 Main Reasons Wills Are Invalidated

Did you know that roughly 3% of all wills end up being contested? These are the three most common reasons that a will ends up being invalidated.

1. Undue Influence

Overall, one of the leading reasons for invalidating a will in New Jersey is undue influence. Undue influence occurs when a person in a position of power puts pressure on a vulnerable individual and forces him or her to write a will that he or she would not have written otherwise. The Court will determine if the person benefiting from the Will had a confidential relationship with the person making the Will.  A confidential relationship is one where the parties do not bargain on equal terms and the person making the Will is dependent in some way on the person benefitting from the Will.  The Court will also determine if suspicious circumstances exist with respect to the making of the Will.  These can include changes in the beneficiaries for the Will, a change in counsel or the involvement of the person benefitted by the Will in the making or execution of the Will. 

2. Lack of Mental Capacity

Another major reason that wills are invalidated is due to the testator not having the requisite legal capacity to sign a Will.  In New Jersey a person making a last will and testament must: (1) know the natural objects of his bounty; (2) know his assets and (3) be able to understand how the Will operates. 

3. Issues With How the Document Was Created

New Jersey has very precise requirements for how a last will and testament must be executed.  For any document to be recognized as a will, it needs to be in writing, made by a testator who is at least 18 and mentally sound, signed by the testator and witnessed by two unbiased witnesses. If any of these requirements are not met, then the last will and testament will not be admitted to probate absent a legal proceeding to have the document admitted as a writing intended to be a last will and testament.

To learn more about your estate planning options, get in touch with The Knee Law Firm. Our team of Hackensack lawyers is here to help with trusts, wills, power of attorney documents and more. Call (201) 996-1200, or send us a message to schedule a free consultation.