Legal Grounds for Contesting a Will

Imagine your father, who has always made it clear that you are a benefactor of his estate, passes on. Imagine discovering that you are left out of the Will completely and his property and assets had instead been left to his estranged sister whom he hasn’t spoken to in years. You are stunned and suspicious that something is clearly not right in this situation, but can you legally contest a Will?

Contesting a Will after a loved one has passed on is difficult, but not impossible. Legal grounds for contesting a Will include:

Improper execution
If you can prove that a Will does not comply with state and federal laws, you have legal grounds to contest it. State laws surrounding Wills differ. In North Carolina (NC), two witnesses are required at the time of the signing. Wills generally become public record, so obtaining a copy and contacting the witnesses would be a good first step to take.

Lack of Testamentary Capacity
Was your loved one of sound mind when the Will was created? Did they understand the legality of creating a Will and the value of their assets? If you are able to obtain medical records and prove that the Will was signed at a time when the individual was incapacitated, a Will can be contested. State laws regarding a person’s mental capacity differ, so be sure to contact a trusted attorney. For more information on Testamentary, review our previous article Different Types of Trusts: Which is Right for You

Undue influence
We like to believe that friends and caretakers of our loved ones are honest. Unfortunately, illness or age can make our loved ones vulnerable to dishonest people. If you suspect a relative, caretaker or another individual coerced your loved one to sign a Will that they would not have signed otherwise, you could have a case for contesting a Will. Undue influence can be difficult to prove, but having an expert attorney on your side can help.

Fraud
If you suspect your loved one was tricked into signing a Will, you could have grounds to contest it. Like undue influence, proving that a Will was signed under fraudulent circumstances can be difficult. State laws come into play here and witnesses will need to be called upon.

Though contesting a Will is not impossible, it could prove to be difficult and costly. The decision to contest a Will should not be made alone. Before contesting a Will, contact the trusted, experienced attorneys at Wilson Law, P.A. Your initial consultation is free. In North Carolina, a Will must be contested within 3 years of probate, so if you suspect your loved one signed a Will under questionable circumstances, contact us today.

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