What You Should Know About Contesting an Estate

If you recently had a loved one pass, and you believe the will for their estate was fraudulent or faulty for some reason, you might be able to contest it. This is a legal practice that can only be done by certain people in the family, including the deceased's spouse, children or step-children, partner, or additional dependents. Here are some things you should know about contesting an estate before you decide if it is a good idea.

A Variety of Situations May Qualify For a Contested Estate

You should first know the possible reasons you can contest an estate. Generally speaking, any time you believe the will was not completed correctly or someone was dishonest during the writing of the will, you might be able to contest it. For example, if you have reason to believe your grandfather was coerced into giving a large portion of their estate to one particular person, that might be a good reason to contest it. Some other reasons include when you don't think there were enough witnesses when signing the will, it was not notarized, or that the mental state of the deceased was inadequate.

You Must Have Valid Proof For Your Claims

One of the hardest parts about contesting a will is that you have to find valid proof that it is unjust. This requires quite a bit of digging and research and talking to as many people involved in writing up the will as you can. For example, if you believe the witnesses were inappropriate, you can get a copy of the will and find out their names, then use that as catalyst for why these were not good witnesses to have. They may have been mere acquaintances or people that have since shown to be very untrustworthy. If your grandmother was diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer's before writing up the will and signing it, a doctor might be able to provide documentation that proves they should not have been writing the will without proper guidance.

You Will Need to Go to Court

When you contest a will, it is not as simple as filing paperwork and waiting to hear about the results. This is more similar to a civil case where you will need to go to court and speak before the judge. The representative or executor of the deceased's estate will likely be there as well with their own attorney. Probate court is going to look over the case while the judge considers both sides of the contested will. The decision is typically given shortly after appearing in court in front of a judge.

Make sure you have hired a good attorney and one that has experience with contested estates. This is a complicated area of probate law, so it requires very specific experience.