After the death of a loved one, those left behind will have the task of handling his or her remaining property, paying final bills and eventually closing the estate. This is an immense responsibility, but it can be a bit easier when the decedent leaves clear instructions for the estate in his or her will. A will is a legal document that allows one to outline final wishes for the distribution of personal property and other matters after passing away.
A will makes the estate administration process much easier for loved ones and others, unless there are issues with the will. There are times when heirs, beneficiaries and other interested parties contest the will for various reasons. A will contest is a complex process, and if you have concerns about the instructions your loved one left behind, you may benefit from an explanation of your legal options.
Grounds to contest a will
You cannot formally contest a will simply because you don’t like the terms of the will or want to secure assets not designated for you. However, there are times when it could be appropriate to challenge a will, especially if you believe that your loved one was not in a position to make sound decisions at the time of the creation or modification of a will. Valid reasons to challenge a will include:
- Your loved one did not have the mental capacity to make legal or financial decisions at the time he or she created the will.
- You did not formally revoke previous wills before making a new one.
- There are mistakes in the terms of the will, or there is evidence of possible fraud.
- A third party placed undue influence on the testator during the creation of the will.
If you suspect there is a problem with the will of your loved one, you do not have to remain silent. It is possible to seek an evaluation of the current will and the circumstances surrounding its creation in order to determine if a formal contest is appropriate.
The right course of action
Settling the estate of a loved one can be a difficult and emotionally challenging task. You will benefit from seeking the insight of a professional who can determine your rights, particularly if there are issues with the will of the decedent. While formally contesting a will can be a difficult process, you have a right to fight for your interests and those of your loved ones.