A possible settlement deal was recently reported in the litigation over the estate of Huguette Clark, the wealthy heir of former U.S. Senator William A. Clark. The litigation is will contest action filed in New York concerning Huguette Clark’s April 2005 will.  In her will, she removed her distant relatives as beneficiaries and replaced with lawyers, nurses, doctors, and the hospital itself. The settlement will reportedly give the relatives about $30 million of the estate valued at about $300 million.

What must be proved to contest the validity of a will?

The law in Idaho makes it difficult to invalidate a will.  Since the decedent is no longer available to testify, there is a presumption that a signed will expresses his/her wishes. For a will contest to be successful, at least one of the following must have occurred:

  • The person who made the will was mentally incompetent. There must be evidence that a physician declared the decedent mentally incompetent before the will was drafted.
  • The will was made under coercion. There must be evidence that the decedent was forced to do something that he/she did not want to do.
  • The will was executed without the proper legal formalities. The law sets forth rules for the making and signing of a will. The will must be signed by the person for whom it is being drafted in front of two witnesses.

It is important to consult with skilled Idaho estate planning attorneys before your will is drafted. We use our experience to draft wills that contain language that would make the will difficult to contest.