How can i contest a will?
When you are facing the loss of a loved one, emotions can get high and tensions can rise. Families often struggle to process grief when someone dies, but often, along with the grief comes complicated financial matters and affairs. Your loved one’s will may seem incomplete, unfair, or otherwise out of alignment with what the person who wrote the will may have truly intended, and you may feel that you need to somehow make it right. You may also worry that the will is set in stone and cannot be challenged. However, you do have legal options. You can try to contest the will yourself, but you’ll likely get better advice from an attorney who knows the specific situation… and the law. Being aware of how to contest a will can help you know what your options may be, should the need arise for you to do so. Once you understand the basics of contesting a will, you’ll be able to determine whether you need to enlist the help of an attorney. However, it is important to note that successfully contesting a will is a big challenge, so you’ll want to proceed carefully and learn as much as you can, on the front end, in order to avoid wasting time and money.
Who is allowed to contest a will?
Not just anyone can contest any will. If your neighbor or friend dies and leaves some of his or her family members out of a will, you probably cannot contest that person’s will unless you were somehow involved in it. However, you can contest a will if you meet one of the following criteria:
- You were a named beneficiary of a prior will;
- You are a named beneficiary of the current will;
- You are a named beneficiary of a newer will that was drawn up after the will in question; or
- You would be an heir if there were no will drawn up (such as if you are a spouse, a child, a parent, sibling, or other relative, depending on the family structure).
When can you contest a will?
If you determine that you are allowed to contest a will, you’ll also need to establish your legal grounds to contest the will. Simply being displeased with the inheritance conveyed to you is not considered to be legal grounds. Also, simple verbal promises to leave something to someone in a will do not constitute actual grounds to challenge a will. You’ll need evidence to show that there was an intention to make a gift that was not carried out due to incapacity or otherwise undue influence. A will can be challenged for many reasons, including:
- Lack of testamentary capacity, i.e. mental capability to make a will;
- Fraud, undue influence, or forgery;
- The existence of another will; or
- The absence of state requirements having been met.
Contesting a will is a challenging process, so it’s good to have professional guidance. Davidson Law can help. Call today!