When a loved one dies, their last will and testament should be what really matters.
In some situations, however, the validity of the will itself can be called into question. Whether you think it’s been manipulated somehow or you simply don’t agree with the state of mind that the will writer was in at the time, you may have grounds to contest a will.
In this post, we’re going to tell you a few things that you should know before you contest a will. This can be a touchy process that involves disgruntled family members, so the more you understand the process and its implications, the better off you’ll be. Keep reading and decide for yourself if you’ve got a strong case to contest this will.
In order to contest a will, you have to have grounds to do so. Here are some common reasons why you might contest someone’s will:
- The will doesn’t abide by state laws.
- The document itself is unclear on what the testator meant, so the validity is called into question.
- There’s intentional deception contained within the will, making the document fraudulent.
- The writer of the will was coerced into signing a will that doesn’t reflect their actual wishes.
- One of the benefactors takes issue with the asset distribution in the will.
It’s worth noting that very few (under 3%) wills ever get contested and not many of those are successful. If you feel that one of the above things is valid in your case, it will be wise to consult an estate lawyer to help you understand whether or not you have grounds to contest.
Of course, only certain people are allowed to contest a will. Not all close associates or family members are able to do it, but if you’re an heir or a beneficiary, then you can.
Heirs include children, spouses, grandchildren, parents, siblings, and some extended family members. Beneficiaries include anyone who is specifically included in the last will and testament, not restricted to, but including the heirs.
To legally contest a will, you need to file a challenge within two years from the date that the will is officially filed. Probate hearings, so long as there aren’t any acrimonious parties, usually take less than a year to complete. Any complications with taxes or assets can draw things out considerably longer.
If you decide to contest a will and lose, then you could risk disinheritance, especially if the will includes a no-contest clause. It can also be extremely expensive to contest a will, as you’ll have to make certain preparations and hire a lawyer to do it properly.
To contest a will, you have to be fairly certain that some wrong has occurred. If your situation doesn’t fall under the usual grounds for contesting a will, then the likelihood that you’ll succeed is very slim. That being said, when huge sums are involved and you think there’s been some wrongdoing on another party’s part, it might be the right thing to do.
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