When Your Loved One's Will Is Being Contested
The last will and testament of your loved one is meant to cover the final wishes of the deceased. That usually means providing a guide to the deposition of your loved one's assets. Unfortunately, all might not go as smoothly as hoped when a will is filed in probate court. Read below and learn more about what can happen when a will is contested.
Probate and Wills
One of the main reasons that probate exists is to certify that the will presented to the court is a true last will of the deceased. That process includes verification of signatures and checking the will to ensure it doesn't contain illegal provisions that would nullify it. When someone has a problem with the will, they can file an objection which brings probate court to a halt until the matter is resolved. Anyone can file a will contest – not just relatives and friends of the deceased.
Reasons to Contest a Will
Many might assume that wills get contested when someone learns that the inheritance they expected is not forthcoming. While that reason might lie behind the filing of a will contest, it's not a valid legal reason to disagree with a will. That means that the litigate must name legal grounds or reason to contest the will so as not to waste the court's time on frivolous matters. Below are a few common grounds for contesting a will:
State of mind – Being of sound mind and body is often the wording included in a will and there is a good reason for that. Only those who are mentally competent to make decisions may create a will. In most cases, the estate lawyer making out the will for the grantor will speak with them to verify that they are aware of what they are signing. Challenges to the competency will mean presenting evidence that the deceased was unaware of their actions and that must be verified by one or more doctors or mental health practitioners. Those in dire medical states may also be unable to carry out a valid will.
Influences – It can be easy to assume that a caregiver or others have an undue amount of influence over a person making out a will. The courts usually use the totality of the evidence to arrive at a verdict. For instance, a caregiver inheriting the entire estate may be unusual, but not if the caregiver can show that the deceased intended it to be that way. Having corroborating evidence is key. Videos, for instance, in which the grantor appears of sound mind can be very compelling.
Miscellaneous Reasons – Even minor spelling errors can cause a will to be questioned. Also, when the signature appears to be false, the will could be thrown out.
The estate litigation lawyer handling your loved one's estate will often be in charge of fighting off any contests to the will. Speak to a lawyer to find out more.