How to Contest a Will
I Need to Learn How to Contest a Will - What’s a Will Contest?
Many people are hesitant to learn how to contest a will. Some feel like it may be disruptive during a time of difficulty for a family. However, there are instances where a will contest may actually be necessary. For example, there may have been an error or oversight regarding a particular will provision.
In such cases, it is possible for a person to file for a will contest. A will contest is a specific type of legal proceeding where the court reviews the will to check for its validity under will laws.
If you need to know how to contest a will, here are some starting points:
- Familiarize yourself with the contents of the person’s will. Be sure to read any provisions that may apply to you and take note if there are any errors or oversights.
- Begin compiling any documents or statements that may support your position. This may include letters or documents from the deceased person, as well as witness testimonies. These can be used as evidence during the will contest hearings.
- Be clear on what you’re trying to accomplish. Court’s probably won’t take it lightly if you’re simply trying to gain as much as you can from the person’s estate. Will contests are best reserved for disputes over a specific item or property.
Under What Circumstances Can a Will be Contested?
In order to understand how to contest a will, you should be familiar with the circumstances in which a will can be contested. While these may vary according to state laws, in general a will may be contested if:
- The will isn’t valid under laws (for example, if it wasn’t signed properly or witnessed)
- The will was created or signed under situations involving threats of harm
- The will was created or signed through the use of fraud or misrepresentation
- The will was cancelled or revoked by a new will
- The will created at a time when the maker was not mentally competent
Thus, if any of these apply to your situation, it may provide a legal basis for a will contest. You would need to file with the court in order to initiate the process for a will contest. This can take some time, especially if there are other parties involved.
What Happens if a Will Contest is Successful?
When a will is successfully contested, the court may take a number of different actions to ensure that you receive the property that you’re entitled to. For example, the court may revise a portion of the will in your favor, even if the property was about to be distributed to a different person.
In some cases, the entire will might be declared void, especially if the original one wasn’t actually valid under law. In such cases the property may be distributed according to the laws that govern the probate process. This can yield a different distribution than what was indicated in the will.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help With a Will Contest?
Most will contests require the assistance of a lawyer. It’s to your benefit to hire a wills attorney, who can help explain how to contest a will. The legal advice and guidance of a lawyer is indispensable during will contest proceedings, which can often be complicated. Or, if you need help defending against a will contest on behalf of a loved one, an attorney can represent your interests in court.
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Last Modified: 06-04-2012 11:29 AM PDT