Grounds for Challenging a Last Will and Testament in Louisiana
Contrary to popular opinion, estate planning documents—such as a last will and testament—are not bulletproof in the context of the law. With the right evidence, it is possible to successfully challenge a will in Louisiana.
Though challenging a will is not guaranteed to prove successful, it is worth the effort, especially if you believe these legal documents are inaccurate or were signed under duress.
Suppose it can be proven that the will was not properly executed. In that case, the court might overrule the language and disperse assets in a manner that is more favorable to the deserving beneficiaries.
In this post, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview of the grounds for challenging a will in Louisiana.
1. Undue Influence
It is possible to argue that a nefarious party influenced the testator (the person who made the will or was given a legacy).
Even slight pressure from a family member, friend, attorney, or other party creates the solid legal footing necessary to contest the will and redirect assets to parties not named in the estate planning documents.
Suppose such manipulation can be proven to show the testator was forced to sign against their desires. The assets in question might be rerouted to a more deserving party, such as you and other loved ones, charities, etc.
2. Violation of Law
There are highly nuanced state requirements—or formalities—for writing a last will and testament. This document could be successfully challenged if not written per Louisiana laws.
For example, notarial wills must be written, signed by the appropriate party, witnessed and dated accurately. Though few are aware of it, wills referred to as holographic wills are to be handwritten.
If a will lacks these formalities, it may be declared invalid.
3. Lack of Testamentary Capacity
Some testators have insufficient mental capacity to create and sign a will. Called “testamentary capacity,” it indicates that the testator is aware of the consequences of generating a will along with the provisions of the legal document. Though proving this can be difficult, it is within the realm of possibility.
Have a lawyer review a will to determine if there is convincing evidence that testamentary capacity was lacking. Even something as seemingly minor as a single medical record about mental health at the time the will was created can set the stage for successful challenging.
4. Fraud or Forgery
A will can also be challenged if it was created through fraud or forgery. This may occur if someone alters the will after it is executed or creates a fake will in the testator’s name.
The person challenging the will must provide evidence that the will was not executed under the testator’s true wishes and was created through fraud.
A will can also be challenged if the testator revoked it or created a later will that supersedes an earlier one. The later will would take precedence over the earlier will, which would be considered invalid.
In Louisiana, a will can be revoked by physically destroying it, executing a new will, or making a statement indicating the intent to revoke the will.
6. Error in Execution or Interpretation
A will can also be challenged if there is an error in the way it was executed or in the way it is being interpreted. This may occur if there is ambiguity in the language of the will or if there is an error in the description of the testator’s property.
The person challenging the will must provide evidence that the error is significant and affects the interpretation of the will.
Schedule a Consultation With Niswanger Law
At Niswanger Law, we have an in-depth understanding of the nuances of Louisiana will laws so that we can help deserving parties obtain assets from a loved one’s estate.
We provide invaluable services to those needing a will and other documents and ensure these are created in a manner that won’t lead to a successful challenge in court. We help review the evidence if you’re contesting a will. We also guide people in avoiding common mistakes in estate planning.
Contact us today to schedule a consultation. Our law office is located at 3814 Cypress Street, West Monroe, LA 71291. You can contact us by dialing (318) 953-0071.