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When can a person contest a loved one's will?

Probate litigation is a complex area that requires a deep understanding of the applicable laws. One of the primary situations in which this area of the law comes into the picture is when there is a dispute over a will. There are specific circumstances that must be present for a person to do this.

Will challenges aren't common. Around 99% of all wills go through the courts without any issue. One of the most difficult things about contesting a will is ensuring that you're a person who is able to do this. Then, you have to be sure that you have valid grounds for the challenge.

Who can contest a will?

In order to contest a will, you must have a valid legal standing. There are typically three conditions that make it possible for a person to challenge a will. Only one of these has to be present for the person to be considered an interested person.

  • People who are in the intestate succession laws
  • Beneficiaries who were in a prior will
  • Those who are in a subsequent will

Sometimes, there is a clause that says that people can't contest the will. If there is a "no contest" clause, it means that anyone who challenges the will loses their inheritance if their contest is found invalid. These clauses are sometimes considered not valid by the court, so you should have the matter reviewed by a knowledgeable person even if this clause is present.

What are the grounds for challenging a will?

There are several reasons why you can challenge a will.

  • Undue influence of the creator
  • No property inventory presented to some beneficiaries
  • Single beneficiary is the only person reaping benefits
  • Failure to meet fiduciary duties
  • Guardianship or conservatorship disputes
  • Personal representative disputes
  • Creditor details are missing

This isn't an all-encompassing list, so it's a good idea to find out if the issue you have is a valid reason to contest the will.

Before you opt to challenge a will, think about the risks and benefits of taking this action. These cases tend to push a wedge between family members so you must determine whether this is something you're willing to live with. For some individuals, the benefits of contesting the will are worth that possibility.

These cases are often complex matters so ensure you work with an individual who's familiar with this area of the law. These matters are time sensitive, so you should get started as soon as you realize that there is an issue with your loved one's estate.

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