How to Contest a Will

You thought you would be the beneficiary to your parents’ large fortune, but what if when they die, they leave behind a will that excludes you entirely? That’s exactly what happened to Paul Young, a middle-aged father who was hoping inheritance money could help him fund purchases in his own life and give him the ability to save for retirement. Yet when Young’s mother died, she left her $600,000 home, all assets and 80 percent of the rest of her property to his sister. Young’s mother did not leave any assets to him or his stepdaughter. Young was floored. He says that he has always had an excellent relationship with his mother, and the older woman always doted on his stepdaughter.

If you are in a similar situation, you may be at a loss as to what to do. Yet as the saying goes, where there is a will, there is a way. If you truly believe that your decedent made a mistake, there is a possibility that you can contest the will. While the chances of success are slim, the courts provide an option to challenge a will in court. Some assumed-heirs believe that their decedent may have been mentally incapacitated at the time of drafting a will, or have failed to update the will since new members were added to the family. If you choose to contest a will, you will want to contact an estate planning attorney to help. Herb Nass, a New York based estate attorney, says that contesting a will is becoming more common as the baby boomers generation dies. Nass says that there is a lot of rivalry among siblings who all want a slice of the estate.

If you want to revise a will after the author has passed away, you will need to establish one of four legal grounds. In order to change the recipients of the state, you need to prove that there is a reason that the will cannot be valid. The first reason that you can present is that the author was under undue influence. This is often very difficult to prove. Yet if the deceased person was pressured by someone to change his or her will, then you have a case. Also, if you can find proof that an heir threatened the author to make sure that he or she would get the finances he or she wanted, this can constitute as undue influence.

In addition, you can try to prove the will needs revisions on the basis of fraud. This is when the will’s author was tricked into signing a will. Sometimes the individual is told that the document is just a deed or another legal document, and forced to sign without realizing that he or she was committing his or her fortune. Often elderly people with poorer vision or diminished faculties won’t pay attention to the contents of a document, and their signature could send their whole estate in a direction they never wanted it to go after their death.

You can also argue a will’s invalidity on the grounds of improper execution. This is when the will is not prepared of executed properly under the laws of the state in which it was created. If your decedent drafted the will and violated California law code, and you live in California, then the will cannot be upheld. The courts may choose to throw it out of if it violates enough drafting statutes. Also, if the will maker was not mentally stable at the time of the will, then it could be considered invalid. You will probably want medical records to prove that your loved one had a mental disease such as dementia. If you and your lawyer can prove that one of these reasons is valid, then the court may approve a revised will which includes you as a beneficiary or fairly splits the property. Talk to a probate attorney today if you want to contest a will!