If the contents of a will or outcome of the probate process are surprising to you, you may have suspicions. The probate process can be full of surprises and shocking revelations. You may even have the urge to take your concerns to probate court. It is possible that the will may be invalid.
However, before you file a lawsuit, it is important to understand the legal grounds for challenging a will. Here are some reasons you may want to contest the will in court.
1. Undue influence
Sometimes, people manipulate others to write certain things into or leave specific people out of an estate plan. Signs of undue influence include a caretaker inheriting a significant portion of the estate, an important family member being left out of the will and isolation of the will-maker before his or her death. Undue influence may invalidate a portion or even the entire will.
2. Lack of capacity
When someone signs a will, he or she must have a complete understanding of the following:
- The value and nature of his or her assets
- Who should receive the assets (i.e. close family members)
- The legal outcome of signing a will
In order to prove incompetence or medical incapacity, you will likely need witnesses statements or medical records.
3. Fraudulent signing
People sometimes trick others into signing a will. This is usually accomplished by disguising the will as another document, such as a power of attorney or deed. A fraudulent signature can be difficult to prove, so witness testimonies are crucial to proving the will was created by fraud.
These are just a few of the legitimate reasons to challenge a will in probate court. In order to challenge a will, you must prepare evidence to prove your suspicions. Be ready to gather evidence of wrongdoing, lies or medical evidence. Be confident that you have enough facts on your side to win in court.