Many families are open and forthcoming about their wishes over how their assets will be distributed to their loved ones upon their death while others keep their thoughts to themselves subjecting their heirs to learn about their wishes after they have past.  Probate lawyers have the expeienced and knowledge to handle situations like this, unlike other attorneys such as Divorce counselors that practice family law. 

Transparency about one's estate plans does not necessarily prevent will contests from happening, however, being open can help reduce the possibility of families squabbling over how the assets will be distributed upon the testator's death.


If a will is challenged

 

Will contests don’t happen often, however they occur.  If a will doesn't meet the legal requirements or if the originator of the will was under some sort of influence, not of sound mind, then the beneficiaries are within their rights to challenge the will. Such contests are usually executed in the probate court in the county where the decedent passed away.

 

Reasons for contesting a will may include:

  • Claims of insanity
  • Technical flaws
  • Handwritten, unwitnessed will
  • Fraud
  • Undue influence
  • Accusation of Forgery
  • Mental incapacity, not being of "sound mind”


Legally, a will contest is an objection against the validity of a will. The individual challenging the will is arguing that the will does not reflect the intentions of the testator (originator of the will) or that the will is not valid for another circumstances.


Solely depending on the facts of the case, the consequences of a will contest could result in a reinstatement of an earlier will, invalidity of a specific provisions or gifts or a reduction in certain gifts/assets and an increase in others.


Those who have a legal right to contest the validity of a will in the United States includes those who are named in the will (the beneficiaries) and those who would inherit from the decedent if the will is ultimately deemed invalid by a probate court.


Reach out to a probate lawyer today in our directory to learn more about will contests and probate litigation.


Disclaimer:  While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this article, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.