Despite contested wills being heavily featured on daytime soap operas, they are not an everyday occurrence. However, if you feel that there is reason to call into question the validity of a will, you have the right to do so. If you are considering contesting a will, it is important that you understand the possible consequences of doing so and what steps you need to take to put a challenge in action.
What Are the Possible Outcomes?
If your challenge of the will is successful, there are a few possible outcomes that could occur. The court could decide to toss out the entire will and reinstate an earlier will. If there is no earlier will, the court could defer to inheritance laws in your state to determine how the estate should be settled.
The court could also choose to only invalidate part of the will. If that occurs, the court could fall back on inheritance laws to determine what happens with the impacted assets or donate those assets to charity.
If the will overwhelmingly favored one or more persons while diminishing the inheritance of a spouse or children, the judge could order a more even distribution of the assets.
In the event that you lose the challenge, the will could stand. However, if there was a no contest clause in the will, you could lose your rights to any of the estate. If that happens, you will most likely have no legal options available.
Should You Challenge the Will?
It is extremely difficult to win a challenge of a will. In order to be successful, you have to question the validity of the will. There are several ways you can challenge it.
For instance, you could argue that the deceased was manipulated into creating the will. You could claim that the person was under duress or mentally incapable of creating the will. If you have medical records or statements from others that attest to the mental capacity of the deceased at the time the will was created, the court might side with you.
If you believe the will is a forgery, you could challenge it on this basis. For instance, if you believe that a sibling changed some or all of the will, you could win your case if you can prove it.
There are other grounds under which you can contest a will. Confer with an attorney who has experience in challenging wills to get help with assessing whether or not it is a wise move and to learn what strategy would work best in your particular case.