Will and Trust Contest
Even though a decedent may have left a will, the estate may not be divided according to the specifications of the will if it is shown to be invalid. There are times when the validity of a will may come into question.
A “will contest” is a legal challenge to the validity of a will. The will contest can be brought by anyone wishing to dispute a particular will’s validity. The court will generally allow a specific time period when a will contest can be brought. Grounds for contesting a will include:
• Incapacity of the decedent at the time the will was made. The decedent must have been of sound mind and body at the time the will was drafted. This means the decedent must have been able to basically understand how assets and property were being divided up. Proving mental illness or use of alcohol and/or drugs at the time of will drafting can be grounds for a will contest.
• Finding a later will, thereby nullifying the original will.
• Improper execution of the will including proper signatures, witnesses, and notarization. The will must conform to all state requirements of execution.
• Undue influence of another on the decedent at the time the will was made. If one can prove the decedent was coerced, tricked or placed under duress to change the content of the will a will contest can be made.
• Forgery of any signature on the will including testator or witnesses.
The contest of the will must be tried before the will can be probated. The cost for the contest will come out of the estate reducing its overall value. If the will is shown to be invalid in court the court may:
• Have the decedent's assets distributed according to the states intestate laws. Intestate laws are the legal defaults for dividing estates without a will.
• An earlier will can be reinstated.
• Reject the part of the will shown to be invalid.
In some cases the lawfulness of trust may come into question. The legality of a trust can be contested for many of the same reasons as wills, including poor construction of trust, or improper execution of Grantor’s wishes by Trustee (e.g. step-parent does not give beneficiaries their shares of the estate upon passing of parent.). A skilled estate attorney can help you bust a trust that may be unfair or illegal. Call or use our convenient email form today to speak with a skilled attorney regarding your options.
Will and Trust contests are often very emotional, highly charged cases. It is important to seek qualified legal assistance to help you through this very difficult time. If you are questioning the validity of a will or trust, call our today to discuss your situation.