How Can I Contest A Will (And Win)?
Have you recently lost a loved one, are going over their last will and testament, and are questioning some of the things you are seeing. This is common. If you feel the need to contest a will, be sure to read this helpful information first.
Common Reasons For Contesting A Will
- Evidence that a testator was incompetent or showed signs of incompetency when the will was established or updated.
Excessive Influence or Coercion
- Believe it or not, there are situations where a testator has influenced or coerced to write or update their will in favor of someone. This someone could be a caregiver, attorney, advisor, or possibly a relative.
- Influence or coercion can be any form of physical or non-physical violence, or intimidation and threats of violence.
State Laws Were Not Followed
- Laws may be different in each state, and the differences can be small. If you’re writing or contesting a will in the near future, a good rule of thumb is to contact a qualified lawyer to review the specifics and advise for the best options.
- Failure to comply in even the littlest detail could result in grounds for a contest.
Evidence of Fraud or Forgery
- This is one of the more difficult reasons as you would need copies or access to the original copies of the will. Forgery or fraud are grounds for contest of a will, but like influence or coercion, you will need proof such deceit has happened.
Who Can Contest A Will?
Contesting a will happens more often than one might think. If you’re thinking about taking action, there are laws in place that state only certain parties can contest a will.
- Spouses, children, parents, siblings, grandchildren, and any other extended family members are considered heirs.
- If the deceased included any beneficiaries within their will, they or anyone who represents them can contest the will. Problems here usually arise when a beneficiary was originally in the will but was removed in an updated version.
Can The Executor Of The Will Be Contested?
There are instances where individuals feel that the executor of the will was or is troublesome, challenges can be filed against that person as well. It is your legal right to challenge if you think the executor of the will is corrupt, incompetent, or is being harmful to the process.
Signs an executor may be problematic:
- Misuse of funds.
- Failure to carry out duties.
- Failure to follow through with court orders.
- Disobeying instructions set with the will.
- Close estate with court’s permission.
- Attempts to distribute assets without court’s permission.
If you’re planning to contest a will, expect and prepare to provide proof to support any claim made.
What Happens If I Contest A Will and Lose?
There are real risks to contesting a will and losing, and chances of success are slim. In many cases, it’s better to choose a different route like settlement. You may not get everything you intended, but it’s better than receiving nothing.
Risks of contesting a will and losing include:
- If you challenge and lose, your inheritance could be lost.
- Loss of time and money for investing in filing a challenge.
- Estate could lose value through the process of responding to your challenge.
Contesting a will is a serious matter and should be consulted with experts.
This article was brought to you by the team at Heban, Murphree & Lewandowski, LLC, a probate law firm based in Toledo, Ohio.
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