Legal Steps for Contesting Wills
Many people would not want to be left out of a will from a loved one. However, many beneficiaries find themselves in a loop when the contents of the will of a deceased loved one come to light.
A will could often exclude people that were assured of their inclusion or assumed of their inclusion. When this happens, many people usually take steps to clarify the situation. Often, contesting wills is the legal step many people do.
The terms of a will can be dismissed if it can be proven that:
- There was coercion
- Presence of outright fraud
- The diminished mental capacity of the testator
Contesting wills is an uphill battle for all beneficiaries. The steps to take when contesting wills include:
Think about the costs of litigation
Litigation costs can be horrendous. Contesting a will should not be part of the equation if a previous will never mention you or you are not a member of the family.
The better course is to walk away from contesting the will if the testator only discussed or implied your inclusion in the will. Thinking seriously about the costs of litigation should be the first step before you hire a lawyer.
Ask for a copy of the will
The testator always has the right to say who is included or excluded from his/her will. You can find out why and how you were excluded if you believe that the testator had diminished mental capacity or under duress when making a will.
You can ask for a copy of a new will if any, or list of assets, or previous versions of the will, if any.
Comparing previous copies of a will to a new will to note any significant changes is usually done by good executors. Your first clue for being excluded from the will can be possible if the executor sees some significant changes.
You can also get a copy of the will from a probate court if the will has been entered. The probate court will also tell you the time allowed to contest a will.
Hire a lawyer
It’s time to hire the services of a lawyer if you think contesting a will is worth the legal fight. Talk to the lawyer about the reasons for wanting to contest the will.
Generally, a testator has the right to award parts of his/her estate to any person they want to. The grounds you need to prove to contest the will include:
- The mental incapacity of the testator when he/she signed the current will
- The will to be ruled as illegal because it fails to meet state regulations
Your legal counsel will be able to determine if you have enough grounds to challenge the will. Claiming on the estate is still possible even when you don’t have grounds to challenge the will.
For instance, claiming costs for unpaid work for the deceased allows you to claim on the estate. However, it must be remembered that the value of the claim should be more than the costs of contesting a will or making a claim on the estate.
Contesting a will is an uphill legal battle for anyone. Fighting an all-out court battle can be emotionally and financially stressful for everyone concerned. Mediation is a better solution for everyone. Consult Gold Coast contesting wills experts so that you will know what to do.