Determining if you can and should contest a loved one’s will

| May 22, 2020 | Estate Planning

There can be a lot happening in the days and weeks following a loved one’s passing. There may be calls to make and a funeral to arrange; people are coping with grief and loss; there may be traveling and moving to coordinate.

Adding in the complexity of the legal process can be overwhelming, particularly if your loved one left a will that you do not believe to be accurate or valid. Under these circumstances, you might consider contesting the will. If you are in this situation, read on to learn more about whether you can – and want to – contest a will.

Grounds for disputing a will

Being unhappy about a will or surprised by the terms of one typically will not support actions to invalidate a will. Successful will contests generally are on the grounds that:

  • The will is inaccurate
  • The will is invalid
  • The will-maker was the victim of undue influence
  • The will-maker lacked the capacity to make a legal contract

Should you believe that the will is flawed in some way or does not reflect your loved one’s true wishes, contesting it may be appropriate.

Deciding whether to dispute the will

Deciding to contest a will is not something people should do lightly. Not only must there be grounds to contest the will, but parties must also have standing to do so, which not everyone does.

Further, depending on the reasons behind the dispute, filing a case in court has the potential to create familial rifts and delays. There are also financial aspects to consider, from legal expenses to the possibility of a no-contest clause in the will. This is a clause some people include in a will to deter beneficiaries from challenging it in court.

With all that said, disputing the legitimacy of a will can be critical in protecting your loved one’s legacy. It can be the action that prevents fraudsters from benefitting unfairly and corrects mistakes that the will-maker did not intend to make.

Considering what may be at stake in these cases, it would be prudent to discuss your concerns regarding will contests with an attorney.