Issues with an estate or a will almost always come at a stressful time – a loved one has passed away. These issues only create more stress. One of the most contentious issues with wills is when someone contests it because they genuinely feel they have a right to inherit some of the assets in the will.
Have You Been Left Out of a Will – Call a Litigation Attorney
If you feel you have been left out of a will or have some claim on the will, you will definitely need legal help. Probate issues are complicated and require the help of an expert in that particular field of the law. Disputes involving a will can become long, protracted, and very messy legal battles, often involving multiple attorneys, many court appearances, and long periods of time.
Some estate issues are the result of oversight, but many arise because of fraud. Some elderly people sign a will believing it to be a different document, while others are victims of forged signature. If you are the relative of a victim of fraud, you can get help from a litigation attorney. A probate litigation attorney can navigate the complexities of a court case and act in your best interests.
4 Reasons to Contest a Will
It is very difficult to challenge a will – nearly 99% of all wills pass through probate without issue. The will is seen as the last word of the deceased (testator). Since that person is no longer around to clarify his or hers wishes, the will is the final declaration. Here are a few of the reasons for someone to contest a will.
Fraud, Forgery and Undue Influence
As previously mentioned, fraud occurs when someone tricks an individual into signing a different document, or when a signature is forged. Undue influence happens when someone close to the elderly person uses extreme pressure or duress to force an individual to create and prepare a will that doesn’t reflect their wishes, either by changing amounts, including someone they wouldn’t normally include, or excluding someone they wish to be in the will.
Not of Sound Mind
Adults are assumed to have “testamentary capacity.” This means that the decedent fully understands the value of their estate to properly dispose of its assets, and to decide which people should logically inherit the assets. Challenges to testamentary capacity can arise if someone suffers from dementia, senility, insanity, Alzheimer’s, or other diseases or disorders that impact sound judgment.
Improperly Executed Documents
If the documents weren’t written or signed according to the laws of the governing state, then those documents can be challenged. It is usually easy to contest a will that is improperly executed because the evidence is very clear.
If there is a newer will, this will usually trump the older one. If a valid will is found that is dated more recently than the will being executed, then the court will usually follow the wishes stated in the newer will. Each state has different laws about what constitutes a voided and updated will.
No matter what your reasons are for contesting a will, you will need legal help. If you believe you have valid grounds to contest a will, talk to a probate litigation attorney, who will act on your behalf to ensure your legal rights are fully protected.