Can I Challenge A Family Member’s Last Will and Testament?
A person’s Last Will and Testament may be the most important legal document that he or she ever creates. As
such, it should be created after careful contemplation and consideration, while the person is of sound mind, and
with the assistance of an experienced estate planning attorney.
What if you believe that a loved one’s Last Will and Testament was not created under those conditions? What if
something doesn’t seem right about the document? You may be able to file a Will contest.
Contesting a Last Will and Testament is not something that should be done lightly. In most states, simply being
unhappy about the amount of money or property you received in someone’s Will is not sufficient grounds to
contest the Will. If, however, you feel that something is seriously wrong with the document, then a Will contest
may be warranted.
State laws will vary; however, in most states to contest a will, you need to be either a beneficiary under a prior Will
or an heir according to the laws of intestate succession in the state where the Will is being probated. You must also
have sufficient grounds to allege that the Will is invalid. Grounds such as mistake duress, undue influence, lack of
testamentary capacity, or outright fraud are common grounds on which a Will may be contested. Basically, you
must prove that the Will itself is not valid, or legal, in order for a Will contest to succeed.
Once the Will contest has been filed, the court will begin the process of litigating the claim. A Will contest can take
months, or even years, to litigate. The probate of the decedent’s estate will slow down while the Will contest if
litigated. If the Will is declared invalid, then it is as if the document never existed. If a previous Will is located, and
found to be valid, then the estate will be handled according to the terms of that Will. If no Will is located, then the
decedent’s estate will be handled according to the laws of intestate succession.
Experienced estate planning attorneys St. Louis MO of the Purcell and Amen, Attorneys at Law – Your Estate
Matters, LLC offers estate planning and business planning resources to residents of St. Louis MO. To learn more
about these free resources, please visit http://www.yourestatematters.com today.