Wills are created to follow the instructions of an individual of how their assets will be distributed at the time of their death. Since wills are an important legal document that cover the distribution of assets, many instances occur where certain parties contest the validity of it. Can you contest a will after probate?
Let’s find out the answer in today’s post.
Unfortunately, wills are often the source of disagreements and disputes among families. It’s not uncommon to find beneficiaries or heirs and family members taken over by contentiousness and greed. It’s mostly because they feel like the inheritance is not fairly distributed – which usually means they are not getting any part of it.
Reasons for Challenging a Will
Before we discuss if you can contest a will after probate, let’s first see the common reasons for challenging a will. Here are the potential reasons you may want to contest a will.
- Testamentary Capacity. If the individual writing the will (also called as the testator) does not possess the mental faculties to understand what writing the will entails fully, the document will be proclaimed invalid.
- Undue Influence. Undue influence is one of the most common forms of elder exploitation. This incident usually occurs when a family member, close family friend, healthcare provider, or even a financial or legal advisor exploit their relationship with the testator. Coercion or manipulation, in many cases both, are present. If you suspect the presence of undue influence, it’s best to consult with a legal professional to prove it in court.
- Breach of Fiduciary Duty
- If undue influence is a common form of elder exploitation, breach of fiduciary duty is a common form of claims against fiduciaries and executors. Other types of claims are created based on negligence and general incompetence of executors and fiduciaries.
- Intestate Issues. When a person dies intestate, this means he or she didn’t leave a will. However, you can contest a will after probate even if it has intestate issues. The will, in this scenario, will be in the form of understanding the equal distribution of assets based upon your state laws about intestacy.
- Poor Draftsmanship. You can contest a will after probate if it is drafted poorly.
- Fraud or Forgery
I want to contest a will after probate. What should I do?
While the death of a loved one is a challenging and emotional time, when you have to deal with the matter of inheritance, it becomes more taxing.
Unfortunately, there are instances when people are left unsatisfied with the assets that are or are not given to them. In these scenarios, it’s essential to understand the legal recourse you have to take when you want to contest a will after probate.
Here are the essential items you need to remember when deciding to contest a will after probate.
Gather Important Documents
If you have an inkling that the will of a family member or loved one is questionable, the first rational step to take is to gather all related and essential documents as soon as possible.
Of course, the primary document you must get ahold of is the will itself. This is especially important if you have suspicions with the executor of the will.
Speaking of the executor, it’s very possible that you may face some resistance from him or her.
Executors are not legally obligated to disclose the contents of a will, so this is another challenge you may encounter.
However, there are standard procedures that encourage the release of a will’s contents. If you can’t obtain a copy of a will, you may seek help from a solicitor.
Contemplate Your Relationship with the Deceased
Typically, close family members and relatives contest a will after probate. Although, that’s not always the case.
Not anyone, however, can simply contest a will after probate. Here are the individuals (and their relationship to the testator) that challenge a will.
- Family members
- Beneficiaries under the current will and beneficiaries under a previous will
- Individuals the testator promised inheritance to through verbal or written agreement.
You can also contest a will after probate on behalf of someone else. This is usually the case when a parent disputes it on behalf of a child or a minor.