Testators often draft wills with the expectation that their final wishes will be carried out as per their instructions when they die. Things don’t always go according to plans, though. Wills can be challenged or invalidated based on their contents and the laws in the jurisdiction where the testator last resided.
An heir can contest a will for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is if they question the decedent’s testamentary capacity or their soundness of mind at the time it was drafted. Testators often prepare their wills sooner rather than later to avoid any question of whether they had all their faculties.
Many testators include a no-contest or terrorem clauses in their will. Anyone who challenges it by filing a lawsuit stands to receive nothing. Some jurisdictions allow for exceptions to the clause that can render the will null and void.
A testator’s heirs should have a basic knowledge of the contents of their loved one’s will. They should also be clear about the reasons behind a testator’s decisions. Testators should minimize the risk of surprises happening after they pass.
Testators can also benefit from setting up revocable living trusts to prevent potential probate showdowns later.
While testators should review their estate plans at least once a year to see if any modifications are needed, few do. Since probate laws can change, testators who don’t regularly update their estate plans often don’t have their final wishes fulfilled.
An experienced estate administration attorney can provide North Carolina executors with guidance if they get intoa heated will contest. Learn what steps you must take in your role to remain in compliance with your obligations to the probate court here.