Disputes over wills can happen for a variety of reasons. In some cases, there may be suspicious additions or omissions that don't seem consistent with the stated wishes of the deceased. In some cases, old copies of a will may be found and used to challenge the validity of a will submitted to authorities. If you want to challenge a will, how can you do so successfully?
How to Challenge a Will
There are several ways in which a person can challenge a will. In the event that all beneficiaries are adults and of sound mind, a deed of family arrangement may be signed and submitted to the appropriate court. However, such a deed cannot be accepted if it violates the Inheritance Act of 1972. Wills may also be contested by submitting a legal challenge to a probate court asserting that the will is invalid or because it unduly harms a child or spouse.
On What Grounds Can You Contest a Will?
If you believe that a person was not of sound mind when he or she wrote a will, it could be grounds to declare it invalid. The same may be true if it was signed by someone who didn't speak English or was signed by someone who exerted undue influence on the person who created the will.
While a person is free to give his or her estate to any person or entity that he or she sees fit, there must be adequate provisions made to that person's spouse or children. As a general rule, a court will look to see if a spouse or child has enough to maintain their lifestyle, obtain an education or otherwise advance in life.
Typically, a court will take into account the size of an estate as well as the physical and mental condition of spouses, children or domestic partners of the deceased. It is important to note that there is no guarantee of a reallocation order when a will is disputed based on inadequate provision grounds.
When Can a Will Be Contested?
In most cases, a will must be contested within six months of going to probate. However, exceptions may be made depending on the facts of a given case. For instance, if an older copy of a will is found after the probate process concludes, it may be possible for a court to reopen the case.
Typically, all who may have a claim to part of an estate must be contacted even if they are not part of a will. Therefore, cases involving disputed wills may be heard if an interested party is not made aware of a family member's passing in a timely manner.
Can You Dispute a Will If You Are Not a Beneficiary?
Yes, you can dispute a will even if you are not named as a beneficiary in the will. If you are a family member of the deceased, you generally have the right to a portion of that person's estate. It may also be possible to argue that you should be a beneficiary because you were included in a previous will before being taken out because of undue influence exerted by another party.
What Are Your Odds of Winning a Challenge?
The odds of winning a challenge are greater if you have specific evidence to prove your claim. For instance, you may be able to point to existing law as a reason why you deserve a portion of a person's estate. It may also be possible to win a challenge if you can prove that another person exerted influence on the deceased or that the will should be thrown out because of mentally instability.
Challenging a will may be difficult from a legal, financial and emotional standpoint. However, assuming that the law is on your side, it is possible to successfully challenge a will and get what is legally your property.