Will Contests aren’t always ugly, drawn-out fights between greedy family members. Sometimes they are ugly, drawn-out fights between greedy charitable organizations. They can even be ugly, drawn-out fights between fraud artists and innocent relatives.
Whatever. A Will Contest is seldom a thing of beauty, and rarely happens unless there are significant bucks at stake.
A Will Contest is centered on the premise that at least one of the basic proof requirements for getting a Will admitted to probate does not exist. Those are:
The testator is dead, he/she has been dead for less than 4 years, the court has jurisdiction and venue, all of the court paperwork is in order (required citations and notices served), the proposed executor/administrator has necessary qualifications, the testator did not revoke the will, the will was signed by the testator with the required formalities, the testator was of “sound mind,” at the time the will was signed, and the testator was 18 yrs old or married (or had previously been married) or a member of the armed forces.
If all of those requirements are sufficiently proved, then the Will Contest has to be based on another ground. One popular ground is “undue influence” – the contestant has to show that the testator would not have signed the Will unless his or her mind was subverted by the existence and exertion of an influence that was so powerful that it destroyed free will.
Other popular grounds are fraud (document was forged, different pages were substituted ), mistake, and fraud in the inducement (testator was misled about essential facts).
Will Contests require experienced litigators who are comfortable dealing with complex matters.
Facing a Will Contest?
Hammerle Finley Law Firm. Give us a call. We can help.
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The information contained in this article is general information only and does not constitute legal advice.