Serving Arkansas Clients For More Than 50 Years

Will contests under Arkansas law

On Behalf of | May 23, 2024 | Estate Planning And Probate

In Arkansas, when a person creates an estate planning document, they are doing so with the intention that their desires be carried out. For example, they might say in their will that they want their spouse to receive a certain amount of property and the rest to go to children and grandchildren.

In a best-case scenario, these documents will be clear and there are no areas for which disputes can arise. However, there are times when people are under the impression that their loved one – the testator – did not create the will under their own volition, there were missteps when it was executed or there are other problems that make it questionable.

A will contest can pit family members against each other and is likely the last thing a testator wants. Still, it does happen. Understanding why a will contest might occur can be helpful in avoiding it. Those who are considering a will contest and people who want to defend against one should also understand the facts.

Know the specific conditions for which a will can be contested

An interested person could be a spouse, a child, a sibling or anyone who is set to inherit property from the testator as part of their will. Any interested person can contest the will. They must provide – in writing – the grounds for why they are contesting it. If, for example, the person thinks that the testator was subjected to undue influence or coercion and they wrote a will they otherwise would not have written, this could be justification to question the will.

The testator needs to be of sound mind and body when the will is written. If they do not have sufficient mental capacity to write and sign the will while understanding what it says, this too could be cause for others to question its validity. There are times when people are victimized by fraud. This too could warrant a will contest.

To avoid this complex problem, it is important for people who are writing a will to follow all the rules to make it valid. To have a valid will, the testator must be at least 18-years-old; they must be of sound mind and body; there must be two witnesses who are there at the testator’s request and can attest that the will was completed and signed by the testator.

Know how to avoid a future will contest when creating an estate plan

It is unfortunate that many people who are either named in a will or left out entirely are displeased with what the testator did with their estate plan. However, just because they are unsatisfied does not mean that a will contest is justified.

When crafting a will or other type of estate planning document, it is essential to write it in such a way that it stands up to scrutiny and the testator’s desires will be adhered to. For help with writing a will and ensuring a will contest will not delay the distribution of the assets, it is useful to have a full understanding of what constitutes a valid will and to act accordingly.