Contesting A Will: What To Know

A loved one's last will and testament should convey the wishes of the deceased. It is supposed to be the final word of the author. However, not all wills are valid or the most recent version. One of the main reasons for the probate process to exist is to allow those with claims against the estate to come forward. It also allows those who feel that the will is wrong to contest it. Learn more about the legal reasons for contesting a will.

Probate Verifies the Will

Once a will is filed in probate court, the judge will examine it and declare it valid. The will is checked to ensure that the wording is clear and understandable. If the will had witnesses, they may be called upon to verify that the will's author was of sound mind. The signature of the deceased on the will may also be verified by comparing it with other examples of their signature. Finally, the will must not contain any illegal clauses or bequests. For instance, a bequest cannot instruct someone to perform an illegal act.

What to Know About Contesting a Will

Many people are shocked when they find out what a will contains. Will creators don't always divulge the contents of a will before they pass away. However, those disagreeing with a will cannot contest it based on the fact that they disagree with it. Leaving someone out of the will, not bequeathing what was expected, or providing too much property to someone else may cause rifts and problems for the family and friends of the deceased. However, none of those are reasons to contest a will. There must be specific legal reasons to contest a will.

What Should be Contested?

These are some common grounds for contesting a will. However, estate law varies by state so speak with a probate lawyer in your state to find out more:

Fraud – You should be ready to prove that the deceased suffered from undue influences when they wrote their will. This can be the case when one family member or a caregiver spends a lot of time with the deceased and then ends up inheriting more than their fair share.

Mentally Incompetent – Not all states require a will to be signed before witnesses. When a holographic will is presented, the specter of not being of sound mind can arise. A will is only legal if the person writing it has their full faculties.

Not the Final Will – If you can present a will with a later date than the one filed and it's determined to be valid, you may have a will contestation case.

To find out more, speak to a probate lawyer in your area.