If you’ve ever had a will, you know that it’s a big deal. A will is a document that determines who inherits your estate after you die, and if it’s not done properly—or if someone challenges it—then the decisions made in your will could have huge implications on who gets what.
In this article, we take a look at some of the reasons you should consider challenging an estate will. We also look at the steps for doing so to help people stuck in the conundrum. Stay with us for more.
Reasons for Challenging the Will
If you are considering challenging an estate will, it’s important to understand the reasons why.
First and foremost, if you have been named as a beneficiary in the will, it means that you have been given a share of the deceased’s estate. This can be a large sum of money or small. It can also be an equal share or an unequal share.
However, there are several reasons why you may want to challenge an estate will:
You believe that your deceased loved one was not of sound mind at the time of making their will. If you think that your loved one was incompetent or unable to decide their own affairs (for example, if they had dementia or Alzheimer’s disease), then you should consider challenging their will so that someone else can be named as a beneficiary instead.
You want more control over your inheritance than specified in the original document. This can happen if there is no clear indication as to how much each heir is entitled to receive from the estate, or if there is an uneven distribution of assets among all heirs. In these cases, it may be necessary for one heir to file an action in court.
Steps for Challenging the Will
If you are faced with the difficult task of challenging an estate will, you can take comfort in knowing that there are many steps to take.
First, determine whether or not you have legal grounds to challenge the will. If so, then ask yourself whether or not your case has merit. If not, then it may be best to focus on other options.
If you have legal grounds to challenge the will, then next you must determine what type of challenge it is: constructive or absolute. A constructive challenge arises when the person challenging the will does not have a right to do so but wishes to benefit from what would happen if he did (such as inheriting property from someone else). An absolute challenge is when a person actually has the right to inherit something from someone else but does not want him/her to get it (such as inheriting property from someone who has died).
Once you have determined what type of challenge is appropriate for your situation, then it’s time to prepare for court proceedings by selecting an attorney who specializes in this area and who has experience representing clients in similar cases.
You must also begin gathering information about your deceased relative’s estate, including bank accounts, stocks and bonds, retirement accounts, and other assets transferred over time to heirs or beneficiaries. Make copies of any important paperwork related to these assets so that you have access to it in case you need it later on down the road when filing for probate.
Your attorney will take the following steps during the process:
- Gather all the documents related to the estate
- File an objection with the Probate Court
- Serve a copy of the objection on all beneficiaries who are not minors or incapacitated
- Wait for the probate court to consider your objection and order a hearing
- Attend the hearing and present evidence in support of your claim
- Appeal if you lose at the hearing
Also, find out whether or not there are any debts owed by deceased relatives that need to be paid off before anything else goes into probate court—for example, mortgage payments or medical bills that may still be owed after an estate has been settled (and therefore not covered by insurance).
If so, make sure those debts are paid before proceeding with probate proceedings; otherwise, they could become part of the estate assets once they’re transferred over into probate court.
We hope the directions in this article help you find out the right means for challenging an estate will in court. You can let us know if you have any other questions. You should contact the knowledgeable estate lawyers at the Bourassa Law Group as soon as possible if you want to challenge an estate will. Call us at (800)870-8910 for a free consultation!
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