Bringing a will challenge in Pennsylvania represents a difficult undertaking. In the first place, in order to commence such a lawsuit, the decedent must have been your spouse, parent, child or another very close relative. In addition, you must have legal grounds for your lawsuit. Your mere disappointment that the decedent failed to leave you the inheritance you expected does not count.
Instead, you must claim one or more of the following:
- That the decedent lacked the testamentary capacity to make his or her last will and testament
- That (s)he failed to properly execute the will in question
- That (s)he was under the undue influence of another at the time (s)he made the will in question
- That another valid will exists that supersedes the will in question
- That the will in question is fraudulent or forged
To successfully prove lack of testamentary capacity, you need to provide clear and convincing evidence that the decedent failed to have the level of mental competence necessary to understand the following:
- The fact that (s)he was making his or her will at the time (s)he made it
- The general nature and extent of the property and assets (s)he owned
- The names and relationships of his or her various family members
- The people (s)he was designating as his or her heirs
- The bequests (s)he was leaving them and the approximate value of those bequests
- How his or her will and bequests would affect his or her other family members
To successfully prove undue influence, your evidence will have to show that someone wielded so much power and influence over the decedent that the provisions of his or her will do not reflect his or her own wishes but those of the undue influencer.