Will Contest defined. What are the valid objections to pursure a will contest? How to protect your will? What is a Non-contest Provision or Forfeiture Clause to Will?
A Will is a legal document outlining a person's final wishes for distributing their property post-mortem. A Will Contest is a type of litigation stating there is a disagreement with the current Will, and must go through Probate Court to be resolved. Watching the Anna Nicole Smith or James Brown court proceedings it is evident that a Will Contest is a lengthy and expensive process, so it is important to understand the necessary components before filing. It is advisable to hire an experienced probate lawyer if you decide to proceed.
Who Can File a Will Contest?
Typical, and Valid Objections for Pursuing a Will Contest:
- The person making the Will (testator) never signed the Will. Even if an attorney prepared the Will, the Will is invalid if the testator did not also sign it.
- The Will did not meet statutory requirements. It is important to review the specific laws of the state in which the Will was drafted. For example, some states require a specific number of witnesses to sign the Will, in addition to the testator and the attorney.
- The testator was influenced when drafting the Will. This means that a third party, often a child or spouse, convinced the testator to leave a disproportionate amount of the estate to him/her.
- The testator lacked the mental capacity to understand the Will he/she drafted. A common example of this would be an elderly parent with a condition affecting memory (Alzheimer Disease, senility, etc.).
- Throw out the entire Will. In this case, property will be distributed as if no Will existed.
- Disallow only the part(s) of the Will that were contested.
- Depending on individual state law, the court may use a previous Will if the testator drafted one.
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