Once you have done your will you may wonder is that enough or can my will be challenged in Arizona. A will filed with the state of Arizona can be challenged, but certain requirements have to be met before the challenge can be made.
Arizona law states a petition for probate can be filed regarding the contents of a will created by a recently-deceased individual. When that happens, the probate court has to determine the validity of the will before they can enforce the instructions within the will.
Once the will has been validated, then the probate process will begin. It will deal with any outstanding debts and claims upon the deceased’s estate before distributing any remaining assets to the designated beneficiaries named in the will.
Ground for Invalidation
Not just anyone can challenge the validity of a will. The challenge can be made by any beneficiaries named in the will or any legal heirs of the deceased individual. Once that initial requirement has been met, a will can be contested on the following grounds:
If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “dot your i’s and cross your t’s,” when it comes to your will, this means your will must be done meticulously and precisely. Your will must be properly drawn up with every necessary detail included. If the document lacks a signature, witnesses, lack of notarization or shows signs of being unprofessionally produced, the will may be determined to be invalid and be rendered null and void. A good estate planning attorney like Nicole Pavlik will make sure your will with your final wishes is not defective and will stand up to any challenge on this reason.
This one sounds like a plot twist in a murder mystery, but forging a will can be a very real possibility. The will’s authenticity must not be called into question. A fake may be produced to try and override the wishes of the real will, by taking assets meant for your designated beneficiaries.
This type of challenge goes back to the proper execution of the will. If the attorney was misled about the contents of the will before executing the document, it’s possible the executed will does not represent the true last wishes and directions of the individual. As such, the will may represent an act of fraud.
What were the circumstances of the will’s creation? If an individual was coerced meaning forced into making certain inclusions in the document against their will that is another reason for invalidating a will. If you are subjected to intense pressure by someone who wants to be in the will as beneficiary or wants to exclude others from being included because of their own selfish reasons, this is not right. For example the caregiver for your elderly father may threaten your dad in order to get the bulk of his estate upon his passing. Interested parties such as children or a spouse may have proof or even just the belief that the will does not represent the true wishes of the individual due to force, they can argue coercion took place.
It’s possible the individual created the will while impaired or lacking the ability to coherently communicate their wishes regarding assets and beneficiaries. The lack of mental clarity can be classified as a lack of capacity by the individual, allowing room for debate about the will’s authenticity.
Additionally, the will can be challenged as being invalid due to challenges like a lack of clarity regarding proper guidance, not addressing every one of the deceased’s assets, or not being updated to reflect life changes that occurred after the will’s creation, such as the death of a named beneficiary or the dissolution of a marriage. Again a good attorney should watch out for potential challenges and create a will that is designed properly.