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Contesting a Will: Grounds and Procedures Explained

A will, commonly referred to as a final will and testament, is a written record detailing an individual's desires and instructions following their passing. Many people write their will to ensure that their property and assets are distributed according to their desires to specified beneficiaries.

Even when a will is in place, everything must go through the probate process to oversee the distribution among the heirs. The court reviews the will and ensures that everything is finalized based on the instructions in the person’s will.

But there are times when heirs disagree with how this process is handled. There might be a situation when someone decides to contest a will – which means they are challenging the terms or validity of the will.

Do You Have Grounds for Contesting a Will?

Many assume that contesting a will is a bad idea because it will result in big legal battles and family disagreements. But there are several reasons why you might have grounds to contest a will, and they have nothing to do with family disagreements.

  • The Person Didn’t Have Mental Capacity: Was the writer of the will in a sound mind? If there were questions about their mental capacity when the will was written, then it could be grounds for contesting the will.

  • The Person Was Influenced: Sometimes, other people will manipulate or pressure the will-maker into writing the will in a specific way. A will is only valid if it is written without undue influence.

  • The Document Is Unclear: The best scenario is that the will is written in a way that makes it clear the document is a last will and testament. If there is any doubt that the document was intended to be a will, then it might be grounds for contesting it.

  • The Will Is Incomplete: Are there missing signatures, or is the information incomplete? Then, it might be worth contesting. Typically, a will needs to be signed by the will-maker as well as at least two witnesses who aren’t listed in the will.

Navigating the Process of Contesting a Will

The legal system can be complicated, making it challenging for families to contest a will without assistance. If you need help with these procedures, the best thing you can do is hire an experienced attorney. Call Miles & Hatcher, LLP, to book a consultation and learn more about available services: (909) 481-4080.

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