When a person drafts a will in Minnesota, he or she does so with the hope that survivors will carry out his or her final wishes in accordance with the document. Unfortunately, there are times when another individual forces a testator to alter the will against his or her wishes, or when another individual takes it upon him or herself to make alterations to suit his or her own selfish needs. When this happens, a beneficiary of the document is at liberty to contest the will.
Per Minnesota statute 524.3-407, contestants of a will have the burden of ascertaining lack of testamentary intent or capacity, fraud, undue influence, duress, revocation or mistake of any kind. Moreover, if the will in question replaced or revoked a former will, the probate courts must first establish the later will is even entitled to probate. Same goes with the former will: if a petitioner wishes to have the first will reinstated, he or she must first prove that the previous will is eligible for probate. In addition to providing proof of fraud or mistake, the petitioner must also establish prima facie evidence (establishing a legally required reputable presumption) of death, heirship and venue.
Minnesota allows testators to establish penalties for the unnecessary contest of a will. Those penalties can be whatever the testator deems fit, so long as they are within the confines of the law. However, under section 524.2-517 of the Minnesota statutes, any provision in the will that claim to penalize an interested party for contesting the will becomes void if probable cause exists for the person’s initiation of contest proceedings.