Most wills breeze through Hawaii’s probate procedure without any difficulty. However, there are instances where a will becomes contested by the surviving loved ones, creating familial disputes. Working with your attorney will help you understand when a will may be contested, so you can take steps to prevent this issue from occurring.
When Can Wills Be Contested?
1. Diminished Capacity
Testamentary capacity must be established. The testator (the individual creating the will) has to be of sound mind. However, in some cases, testators wait until they’re elderly to create a will. Even if they’re experiencing forms of decline or dementia, they may still have enough of their faculties to understand the details of the will and the effect signing it has.
Those who contest the will would need the backing of the witnesses present at the document’s signing to admit the testator was not in their right mind. The best way to prevent this situation is to establish a will at a young age and make changes every few years, so the majority of the work is completed before time and age can diminish their mental faculties.
2. Unjust Influence
As people age, they become more reliant on others and also become more susceptible to their influence. Sometimes, an influencer can exert pressure, having testators write or make changes to their wills against their own accord.
Threats of physical or verbal abuse can influence a testator, but it’s not enough to invalidate the will. If the testator doesn’t have the capacity, they can’t testify against the influencer either. However, undue influence can still be proven. Often, influencers will consult with the testator’s attorney regarding the details of the will. They may also pay for the will or changes to it and isolate the testator from friends and family.
3. Fraud Allegations
Some negative influencers commit fraud to obtain what they want out of the will. Influencers are often trusted by the testator, especially when their capacity is diminished. They may produce a legal document, fooling the testator into signing a will without realizing it.
4. Unlawful Signature
Wills are most commonly contested due to unlawful signatures. While it may only seem like a formality, you must sign the documents under Hawaii’s laws. For the will to be valid, two witnesses must be in the room as the papers are signed. Then, the witnesses must sign their names, attesting to their presence, and the will's validity.
A will is a final opportunity to take care of your family. Working with an attorney will help ensure your wishes are carried out as you intended. When you’re ready to establish a will, reach out to the Law Offices of Neil T Nakamura & Associates in Honolulu, HI. For nearly 50 years, they’ve worked with their clients to ensure their wills are legally binding and representative of their wishes. For more information on the firm’s practice areas, visit their website. To schedule a free consultation, call (808) 945-7645.