Losing a loved one is never easy. Learning that your loved one left behind a will may initially be a source of comfort. However, this relief may soon be extinguished if an heir believes that the will was improperly executed or should otherwise be invalidated. However, simply disagreeing with the terms of a will is generally not enough to challenge it in Colorado. Other more substantial grounds are needed to challenge a will.
First, there is testamentary capacity. The testator must understand the extent of their assets and what they are worth, who their heirs are and the effect of passing assets on to these heirs through the will. If these elements are lacking, the testator may not have had the mental capacity to execute a will in the first place.
Second, there is fraud and undue influence. Sometimes, a person nearing the end of their life is in a vulnerable position, either physically or mentally, and is manipulated by another person to leave most or all of their assets to that person. Simply put, the testator drafted the will without free will due to the actions of the manipulator; thus, the will should not be followed.
Third, if a subsequent will is executed, the first will should not be followed. New wills generally replace older ones. If a testator executes a second will, the first will should be destroyed or voided in some other way. State law varies on this, so one should determine how a will needs to be destroyed for a subsequent will to be valid.
Finally, there are technicalities. Perhaps there weren’t enough witnesses to the signing of the will. Some states, including Colorado, permit holographic wills (those that are handwritten and not witnessed) under certain circumstances. Again, because state law varies, it is best to ensure you have done your legal research before challenging a will on these grounds.
In the end, challenging a will can be difficult and many will contests do not survive, meaning the will will be honored. However, that doesn’t mean a person may never challenge a will. If an heir believes that their loved one’s will should be voided, they may want to seek guidance to determine whether there are grounds for legally contesting the will.