Challenging or contesting a will can be done, but it's best to know about the potential downfalls and requirements. When a will has an issue, probate law allows any person with an interest to challenge it, so read on to learn more.
Know the Risks of a Challenge
Most people have heard of contesting a will and probably just assume that those people are unhappy with their inheritances. However, there are many motivations for challenging a will in probate court, and you might want to examine the will carefully before you decide to do so. For example, to prevent beneficiaries and others from holding up a will in probate court, some wills have "no contest" clauses. This clause states that anyone challenging the will without having a very good reason can lose their opportunity to inherit anything at all. Additionally, challenges can take a long time to resolve and incur court costs and legal fees. The presence of such a clause should not prevent you from entering a challenge if there is a good reason, however. Below are a few good reasons to challenge a will regardless of a no contest clause.
Know the Reasons for Challenging
- The will doesn't meet the legal requirements set forth by the state – Most wills must contain the valid signature of the deceased and at least two other signatures of people that are not beneficiaries.
- The will is the result of undue influence – In many cases, undue influence challenges involve cases where someone was convinced, manipulated, or coerced in regard to a will. For example, if an adult child has been caring for the deceased before their death, the other siblings may have a good reason to challenge the will if an unfair balance of the estate is being inherited by the caregiver.
- The will maker was not of sound mind – To challenge a will using this reason, you must be ready to show proof that the deceased did not fully understand what they were doing when the will was made. Incapacity can be for either mental or physical reasons. Normally, a doctor or mental health expert that actually treated the deceased will need to testify to the incapacity.
- Mistakes and Fraud – Mistakes most commonly involve typing errors, such as a misspelled name that might name a distant cousin instead of the oldest son as inheriting the estate. Fraud might mean forged signatures, improperly inserted pages, and more.
Speak to a probate or estate planning attorney, such as Ally M. Glaser P.A., to learn more about challenging a will.