How to Prevent Someone From Contesting a Will

By Anna Assad

A contest to your will may drag out the legal proceedings for your estate, deplete the inheritance you left for your loved ones, and cause ill will in your family. Any person with legal standing in your estate, such as an heir, has the right to contest your will in court. The basis for the contest depends on what the heir believes occurred, but some common claims in a will contest are fraud, undue influence — when one heir believes you were coerced into your will provisions by someone else — and the assertion that you were not mentally competent at the time the will was drafted.

Step 1

Review your will. Look for vague or unclear wording. A contest may arise if your heirs are not sure what you meant in certain provisions.

Step 2

Schedule an appointment with a medical professional before signing your will, especially if you are in poor health. Ask the physician for a letter certifying your mental competence. Keep the letter with your will or in another safe place.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Step 3

Schedule a meeting with your heirs or talk to each person individually. Make the terms of your will clear, and explain your reasons for distribution of your assets. Answer any questions and try to reach a consensus among your heirs. A contest of a will sometimes stems from the surprise or hurt that the contents cause to an heir. Preparing your heirs and answering questions while you can may avoid a problem later.

Step 4

Record a video of yourself explaining the will's terms. Put the video in a safe place or store with a trusted relative. A video of you explaining your intent may serve as proof that you understood your will in probate court.

Step 5

Insert a no-contest provision in your will. A no-contest clause means any heir who challenges your will risks losing his inheritance share if your will is found to be valid. The threat of forfeiting his entire inheritance may deter an heir who would otherwise contest the will.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
What Do I Do if I Think My Wife Is Going to Divorce Me?


Related articles

How to Contest a Will Because of Mental Capacity

You may contest a will if you're an interested party, such as an heir or beneficiary of the deceased person, known as the decedent, and believe the decedent didn't have the mental capacity necessary to write a will. You must prove the decedent didn't meet the mental capacity standard at the time he wrote the will. The mental capacity required to make a will is much lower than the legal standard for other acts, such as making a contract. The will maker, or testator, must know who he is, have a general understanding of the assets he owns and understand the relationship between himself and likely beneficiaries of his estate, such as his spouse and children.

What Documents Do I Need to Bring to Prepare a Last Will & Testament?

You can help your attorney prepare your last will and testament by bringing certain documents with you when you and your attorney meet. These documents will help ensure that your will covers all necessary topics and contains correct information, making it more likely your desires will be carried out after you die.

How to Answer Divorce Interrogatories

Interrogatories and depositions are part of the discovery process in a divorce lawsuit. Discovery allows both parties to ask the other side questions, in order to bring out all of the facts in a case. In a deposition, you're questioned directly by the opposing attorney while under oath. Your answers are recorded and can be used as evidence in court. Interrogatories are questions mailed or delivered to you or your attorney by the other party. You have a limited period of time to provide written answers to the questions

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help. Wills & Trusts

Related articles

How to Make a Last Will Tape Recording

A recording of your last wishes does not constitute a valid will in any state, at least not when it stands alone. A ...

How to Contest a Will in Oregon

You can contest the validity of a will in Oregon if you have a legal reason and a connection to the estate such as ...

Ethics on a Last Will & Testament

Whether you are making your own will or helping someone else to make his, you should consider carefully any ethical ...

How to Contest a Will Due to Alzheimer's

An objection that a decedent was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and was mentally incompetent when she made her will ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED