A common way that a will is contested is to argue that the testator, or person writing the will, did not demonstrate a clear intent to write a will. Generally speaking, it is necessary to indicate that a writing is intended to be a “last will and testament”. If it is not clear that a document is intended to be a will then there is an increased possibility for a will contest, especially if the gifts indicated in the document are substantially different than the inheritance would be if the courts determine that there is no valid will.
An ambiguous statement like, “I want to give my friend $500” will not be considered a will. The money could be for a debt or for something other than a gift of property to be given after death.
A letter stating an intent to make a will is generally not going to be sufficient to count as a will. This is one of the most common mistakes that people make that causes their wishes not to be followed. The language “I want to make a will and give all my property to my daughter” would not be sufficient. A letter stating that a person wants to make a will is not the same as a will and a court would likely throw it out.
It is important to be very clear when drafting a will. There are very specific rules that must be followed or a person might not have their wishes followed. The rules often seem harsh or overly rigid but if they are followed they will allow a person to be confident that their property will be distributed in the manner that they wish.