Avoiding a Will ContestTrust & Estate Planning
Posted in on March 13, 2014
A Will contest is a legal proceeding that challenges the validly of a Will and/or the terms of a Will. Did you know that a Will contest can result in a considerable delay in the distribution of your assets to your loved ones? Did you know that the costs of a Will contest are paid out of the assets of your estates, thus depleting the assets you intended to leave for your loved ones?
The fact that you leave a Last Will and Testament does not guarantee that your property will be distributed according to your wishes. When your Will is presented for probate, there is a period of time that must pass during which others have the opportunity to object to the Will, and a challenge may be brought by any person with an interest in the Will who believes the document is invalid in some way. There are several grounds upon which a Will may be contested, these include:
- Incapacity: A valid Will requires that the testator be of sound mind at the time the Will was executed.
- Undue influence/Coercion: If at the time the Will was executed the testator did not exercise his/her own judgment, but rather the judgment of another, the Will may be found to be invalid.
- Improper execution: There are statutory requirements that must be followed for a Will to be properly executed, including that the Will be signed by the testator and witnessed or notarized by an uninterested person.
- Forgery: A Will may be found invalid if the signature of the testator or a witness if found to be forged.
- Later Will: If a later, properly executed Will is discovered, the later Will replaces the Will offered for probate.
If there is a successful challenge to your Will the Court will decide how your assets are distributed.
If you are concerned that your will may be subject to a Will contest or if you want to avoid the possibility of a Will contest, contact us to make an appointment with one of our estate planning attorneys. If you believe you have a valid objection to a loved one’s Will, contact us to make an appointment with one of our litigation attorneys to explore your rights.