Disputes related to wills are common. There can be concrete reasons for contesting a will in court, which is usually done through an estate litigation lawyer PG County. Here is everything you need to know about contesting a will in court.
Contesting Of A Will
A will is a document in which the legal owner of the assets, property, and valuables leaves behind instructions for the distribution of the wealth, after their passing. Unfortunately, there might be cases in which the key beneficiaries are not happy with the way things have been declared in the will.
This gives them a chance to make an appeal in the court for going over the will and changing the terms if enough evidence is provided. Essentially, contesting of will is a process in which a request can be made to rule the existing will over and make new terms.
Grounds For Contesting A Will
Contesting a will sounds pretty convenient, but you need to keep in mind the fact that not everyone can contest a will or change its contents for the fun of it. There are grounds on which you can contest a will and those include:
Unequal distribution of wealth is quite common, and in some cases, it’s not the main ground for contesting a will because that’s how it should have been in the first place. However, other times, this can be a clear sign that the terms of the will communicated with you are not the same as written in the will.
If the testator has kept the beneficiaries in the loop when making the will, then they also have some sort of idea about the terms, but if that is deflecting from what’s written in the will, then you, as a beneficiary, have the grounds to contest.
Disinheritance Is Involved
Oftentimes, there might be conditions in the will that instead of dividing the wealth among the legal heirs, aka the biological children of the testator, the entire wealth would go to a charity, a close friend, or a trust.
This can give the beneficiaries grounds for contesting the will because according to the inheritance laws in different states, the first right of the inheritance goes to the children and the spouse if there is no other reason involved as to why the wealth is going to charity, rather than the close family of the testator.
Sudden Change Of Will
If the testator has already made a will, but suddenly wants to change it again or redo certain clauses, then there might be something going on behind the scenes. If the beneficiaries find out that the will has been changed at the very last minute, then this can give rise to suspicion and there is clear intent or ill will behind this overnight change.
So, you need to gather as much evidence and file a petition for the will to be contested, before everything goes south.
The Will Is Fishy
There is clear ill intent in the will and you are convinced that the testator was not the person writing the will or they have been under pressure or influence of other people when making the conditions of the will.
There Are A Lot Of Conditions
Too many conditions in a will can be a good or bad thing. It’s good because it doesn’t give a free hand to the beneficiaries to spend the money left behind as they please. But it can also be bad, because after the death of the head of the family, aka the testator, there might be financial depravity and the remaining family members might need some sustenance to get by.
If there is a will left over with a long list of conditions, it can make things very hard for the family, especially if it is dependent on the deceased. So, with proper guidelines, the beneficiaries can contest the will to be changed to make ends meet.
The Owner Was Incapable
Sometimes, the testator can be physically or mentally incapable of making important decisions in a will and if that’s the case then that can put the entire family in jeopardy. A will is something that needs to be made with a sound mind and under no external pressure or influence of other people.
If the will reflects the incapacity of the testator, then there can be a solid reason for the beneficiaries to contest the will in court and that can be done by proving the ailing health of the testator at the time of making the will.
Steps Of Contesting A Will
Here is the general process of contesting a will in court.
Get A Lawyer
First things first, you’ll need to hire a good lawyer. These lawyers are different from most asset dealing lawyers because they deal with issues in the will and contestation daily, so they have the experience you need to successfully contest a will in court. You’ll need to set a meeting with your lawyer and lay down the facts of the case. From there, the process can be filed.
A petition is a formal request made by the lawyer on your behalf to have the court set a date and look at the will and its primary dispute. This process is necessary because it puts the will in the pipeline and in the meantime, you can work on making your case strong by collecting the necessary evidence.
Your probate lawyer Largo will help you out in this regard and you’ll need to be organized and ready for the date. Collect all of the necessary paperwork and go through key points to get everything down and ready to go for the court date.
Get Your Facts Straight
It’s really easy to be overwhelmed by the whole process and this can also lead to you being confused and flustered. This is not the time to lie or jumble your words. Be confident, stern, and most of all, be truthful. If there’s even a speck of lie or deceit in your statement or the case, then the judges can sense it.
Have your evidence on hand because this is something that can make or break your case. Justice is blind and evidence and facts are the sole thing that can drive the final decision in any direction.
Different assets will have different things that need to be looked over. Things like retirement accounts and trusts usually can’t go through a probate process and the result will be the same, no matter what. So, you must evaluate the assets and their characteristics because you might be wasting your time on them.
Usually, assets like houses, tangible properties, and other valuables can be considered in a probate process, but other than these things, there are primary beneficiaries already named, so there’s not much that you can do other than abide by the stated rules.
You can contest a will but you will need a lot of evidence to support your argument in front of the court and that’s just half the battle. Moreover, you require an experienced estate litigation attorney Upper Marlboro who can advice you what you should do and battle your case in the court.