For most residents of Kentucky, a will left by a parent or other relative is assumed to be valid and to be enforceable as written. In some cases, however, the will or a specific bequest may be invalid, and one or more of the beneficiaries may wish to challenge the validity of the will or a specific bequest. Kentucky imposes strict requirements on anyone who wants to challenge a will in court.
Who can contest a will?
Only a few classes of persons can commence a will contest. This group contains beneficiaries named in the will, beneficiaries named in a previous will who have been left out of a subsequent will, and persons not named in the will who would be eligible to inherit property if the will did not exist. This group usually includes a spouse, a child or next-of-kin.
Grounds for revoking or amending the will in a will contest
A will cannot be ruled to be invalid merely because the person starting the will contest disagrees with one or more of the terms of the will. The person contesting the will is limited to only a few specific reasons for asking the court to invalidate the will. These reasons include:
- The person making the will lacked mental capacity at the time that the will was drafted and signed.
- A person cannot make a valid will if he or she lacked sufficient mental capacity to understand the meaning of the will.
- A will made under undue influence by one or more beneficiaries is invalid. Undue influence is usually defined as some form of mental or physical coercion.
- A will can be declared invalid if the statutory formalities were not followed at the time of signing. These defects may include the absence of required witnesses, a forged signature, or the testator’s lack of legal authority to make one or more bequests in the will.
- The person challenging the will can prove the existence of a more recently executed will that is different from the will admitted to probate.
A will contest can be a complicated and extremely difficult case to win. Anyone considering challenging a will in Kentucky should consult a knowledgeable estate planning attorney for an evaluation of the merits of the claim and an estimate of the likelihood of prevailing.