A will is a legal document that outlines how a person’s assets and estate should be distributed after their demise. However, there are situations where individuals may have legitimate reasons to challenge a will in India. In this comprehensive guide, we explore the seven key grounds on which you can challenge a will.
7 Grounds to Challenge a Will in India:
- Lack of Testamentary Capacity:
- Explanation: One of the primary grounds for challenging a will is if the testator (the person making the will) lacked the mental capacity to understand the consequences of their actions when creating the will.
- Rights and Responsibilities: Interested parties have the right to challenge a will if they believe the testator was not of sound mind.
- Use Cases: Challenging a will on this ground may be warranted if there’s evidence of the testator’s incapacity at the time of making the will.
- Undue Influence:
- Explanation: If it can be proven that the testator was coerced or unduly influenced by someone to make specific bequests or include certain beneficiaries in the will, the document can be challenged.
- Rights and Responsibilities: Those who suspect undue influence have the right to challenge a will based on this ground.
- Use Cases: If there’s evidence that a person of authority manipulated the testator’s decisions, a challenge may be justified.
- Forgery and Fraud:
- Explanation: If the will document itself or any signatures therein are believed to be forged, or if fraudulent practices were used to alter its contents, the will can be challenged.
- Rights and Responsibilities: Those with evidence of forgery or fraud have the right to challenge the will.
- Use Cases: When there are reasonable doubts about the authenticity of the will, a legal challenge may be necessary.
- Improper Execution:
- Explanation: Wills in India must follow specific legal requirements, including being signed by the testator and witnessed by two individuals. If these formalities are not adhered to, the will may be challenged.
- Rights and Responsibilities: Those aware of improper execution have the right to challenge the will.
- Use Cases: If the will lacks the necessary signatures or witness testimonies, it can be subject to legal scrutiny.
- Ambiguity and Uncertainty:
- Explanation: A will should be clear and unambiguous. If the language used in the will creates confusion or uncertainty, it may be subject to challenge.
- Rights and Responsibilities: Beneficiaries or interested parties have the right to question a will’s clarity and request clarification.
- Use Cases: When the terms of the will are open to multiple interpretations, a challenge may be valid.
- Testator’s Coercion or Duress:
- Explanation: If the testator created the will under duress, coercion, or intimidation, it can be contested.
- Rights and Responsibilities: Those with evidence of the testator’s coercion have the right to challenge the will.
- Use Cases: When there are signs that the testator was forced to make specific bequests, a challenge may be warranted.
- Explanation: A will can be challenged if the testator revoked it by creating a subsequent will or through a deliberate act.
- Rights and Responsibilities: Parties contesting a will have the right to do so if they believe it was revoked.
- Use Cases: When there is evidence of a new will or an intentional act to revoke the old one, a legal challenge may be necessary.
Challenging a will in India is a serious legal matter, and it should be pursued with a strong basis. Understanding these seven grounds for challenging a will is essential for individuals who may have legitimate concerns about the validity or fairness of a will’s provisions. Legal advice and consultation with a qualified attorney are recommended when considering a challenge to a will in India.