Two common reasons why people decide to dispute wills

Law Blog

Here are a couple of common reasons why people may decide to dispute the will of a deceased individual.

There is uncertainty about whether the deceased owned items bequeathed in the will

Sometimes, a person can end up leaving an item to someone in their will, but after they die, the original ownership of this item is brought into question. This could happen if, for example, an item is a family heirloom and the deceased person was married when they died but did not check with their spouse before bequeathing it to someone. In this situation, their surviving spouse might dispute the will if they feel that they, too, owned the heirloom and that their deceased spouse did not have the right to give it away without their permission.

Similarly, if a person leaves their pet dog to a friend but the deceased person's sibling was the one who took care of the animal and paid for its veterinary treatment in the past, then that sibling might dispute this part of the will if they feel that because they acted like an owner to this pet and took on the responsibilities that came with this, this entitles them to ownership of this animal. A person in this situation could potentially be successful in disputing the will if they are able to offer evidence that shows how involved they were in the animal's care.

The deceased was taking medication that influenced their decision-making

If, when they had their will drafted, the deceased was taking medication that altered their moods or behaviour (for example, if they were taking supplemental hormones to build muscle that caused them to behave angrily and erratically), then their family might dispute some or all of the contents of their will if the decisions the deceased made regarding their estate do not seem to align with the personality that they had before they started taking the medication.

This would be difficult to prove and might require the family to provide the wills and estates lawyer with detailed evidence of what their deceased relative was like prior to taking the medication and to offer statements regarding the extreme changes in their personality that they observed after the relative started consuming this medication. They might also need to submit medical reports about their relative and to offer other evidence of their sudden personality change (such as bank statements, which indicate an abrupt change in their spending habits).

To learn more about will disputes, contact a lawyer.


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