WILLS AND TRUSTS

What Happens When a Family Member Contests a Will?

When a loved one passes away, the situation is already difficult enough. Any extra stress can make a difficult position even harder.

This is especially true when it comes to the will. When family members contest the will, it can put serious strains on relationships.

There are a few reasons why family members can and will contest this process. This article will cover why it can happen and what the outcomes could potentially be.

Who Can Contest the Will?

There are only certain parties that can contest a will. Many people think that any family member can contest the will, but this isn’t true. They must have legal grounds to take this action with the courts.

The following individuals can contest the will:

  • Family members already named in the will
  • Previous beneficiaries who were included at a point in time but were written out
  • Anyone not named in the will but who would otherwise be eligible based on intestacy laws

What happens when a will is contested?

For the will to be contested, there must be proper legal grounds for the process to move forward. The following section explains the situation.

What Must Happen for the Will to Be Contested?

The following must happen for the will to be contested.

Incomplete Will

If the individual believes the will is faulty or incomplete, the case may move forward. However, certain requirements must be met in this situation.

When the will wasn’t signed without the right witnesses, the case may move forward if there are missing signatures. Additionally, it may also be contested if important information is missing from the will.

Mentally Incapable

If the court finds that the person who wrote the will was not mentally capable, it may be contested. The person who wrote the will must be able to understand their assets and relationships with the people written into the will.

Influence

Finally, if the individual who wrote the will was illegally influenced into signing it, this is grounds for the will to be contested. If the deceased was forced or threatened to write the will – or lied to in any way, the contest may move forward.

It’s important to avoid a will becoming contested at all costs. In certain situations, the will is ruled invalid and thrown out. Nobody wins when this happens, and the result is usually bad blood between family members. This can end up causing scars that never heal and in the end, is a situation that benefits nobody.

We would love to help; our attorneys have years of experience drawing up Will’s & Trust plans for clients of all ages and situations. Give us a call to get started today.

Bell & Shah

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