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Contesting a Will: What Do You Need to Know?

Last Will
Are you thinking about contesting a will? When a loved one passes away, you have so many considerations to deal with. Not only do you need to manage the pressing concerns of final arrangements, but you also need to make sure you and your family receive your inheritance. If you feel as though a will has been illegally created, you may want to go through the process of contesting it with the court.

What Are Grounds for Contesting a Will?

Before you begin the process of contesting a will, you may want to know what generally constitutes grounds for contesting a will. Though a will may not feel fair, it may still be a solid and binding document. Here are a few of the common reasons for contesting a will:
  • If the will doesn’t follow state laws. There are different laws, depending on the state, that govern how a will can be signed. A will may need to be signed in front of a witness and may need a notary, for instance. If the will does not follow state laws, then it may not hold up in court. Of course, this doesn't mean that the will can't still be followed; a will on a napkin can be followed if and only if no one contests it.
  • If your loved one wasn't in their right state of mind. A will can be contested when it's believed that the loved one wasn't in the right state of mind when they signed the will. For example, an elderly family member with dementia will generally not be able to legally sign a will.
  • If your loved one was unfairly influenced. If your loved one was mentally or physically unhealthy, and they were taken advantage of by a caretaker or family member, then they weren't able to legally agree to the will. It's possible that the will itself is fake. If you believe that a will may have been created or altered, then you may be able to contest its authenticity.
A lawyer can give you more information on your specific case and whether they believe that a will is contestable. Remember that a will usually has to be contested by a person with standing, or an individual who has some stake in the will's disbursements.

What Is the Process for Contesting a Will?

Once you've decided to contest a will, you need to go through the process. You should contact an attorney immediately since they'll be able to file the appropriate paperwork with the court. You will need to contest the will as quickly as possible because you need to meet the legal time limits for probate. These limits are different from state to state, but they are usually within six months.

Your lawyer will file a motion to contest the will with the court. The court will listen to any documentation and evidence and will make a decision. You will need as much evidence on your side as possible, ranging from expert opinions to witness testimony.

Some wills have no-contest clauses. With a no-contest clause, individuals can still contest the will, but if they lose the case they will be entitled to nothing. These clauses are generally used to reduce the chances of family in-fighting. 

Are you thinking about contesting a will? The process can be complicated and the stakes are high, especially if you have limited evidence or documentation. For more information about contesting a will, and to begin the contesting process as soon as possible, contact the attorneys at The Friedlander Law Firm. We’re ready to meet with you and help you get started.

Location Address:

The Friedlander Law Firm
118 N. Royal St., Suite 605
Mobile, AL 36602

Phone: 251-432-5531
Email: jbf@friedlanderlawfirm.com
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