Few wills get contested in the United States; it is estimated that between 0.5% and 3% of wills get contested. Given the fact that millions of wills get probated every year, this is a substantial number.
Most states only allow "interested parties" to contest a will in probate court. Generally, this is considered anyone who is impacted by the outcome of the probate proceedings.
Many people find it disrespectful to contest a will, but it's far more common than you would expect. There are plenty of factors to consider, whether you suspect fraud, forgery, or coercion during the making of the will. There are many valid and understandable reasons to question the legitimacy of documents, making it essential to be aware of what you should know about contesting a will.
Ensure You Have Standing to Contest
Before anything, you need to look at your relevance to the situation. Typically, an individual's will concerns the immediate family and other close relatives and friends. In these documents, the deceased names their heirs and what property goes to whom. If there is a reasonable expectation that you should receive something but don't, it is in your best interest to bring up these concerns.
Know the Original Intent of the Will
Previous documents, such as estate planning, inform the intent of the will. It allows officials to track the reasoning behind the deceased's decisions and can lead to identifying discrepancies. One of the best ways to protect the inheritors is to establish an estate plan before a loved one passes on. An estate plan ensures that there are no complications or questions about the dissemination of property and other assets.
Communicate With Family About Your Concerns
Tensions can rise quickly during a will contest; it's natural due to the emotions present after losing a loved one. Family members can see any questioning during this time as disrespectful or greedy. It's critical to clearly voice your concerns with the document and explain any suspicions regarding potential interference. Any reasonable discrepancy is worth investigating to ensure no one gets taken advantage of.
Properly File a Will Contest
It's essential you know how to file a will contest properly; failing to file your claim correctly can result in the dismissal of the contest. In the worst-case scenario, this can bar you from filing another claim on the will, locking you out of any investigative recourse. Always turn to professionals to properly draft and file your claims to ensure the highest probability of success.
Always Seek Professional Help
Getting professional assistance is essential when filing a claim, but during every phase of the contest, you need to be in contact with legal professionals. The layperson will not be able to navigate the legal terrain required to file and fight a claim successfully. Be aware of what you need to know about a will contest claim before you get the proceedings going; doing so will only benefit you and eliminate the chances of failure.
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