When a party has an issue with how an estate is being probated, a will contest may ensue. Contesting a will can be particularly difficult for all parties involved due to emotions, stress involved, and the complex nature of the litigation. Our law firm’s Probate Litigation attorneys balance compassion with an aggressive litigation approach.
When contesting a will, or defending a contested will, time is of the essence. There is a limited time to file a claim after a will has been presented to probate. Delay can cause you to lose valuable legal rights.
We provide legal services to parties who either seek to contest a will, or are forced to defend a contested will, and any issues which may relate to this process. Some common reasons a will is contested include:
• Undue Influence
“Undue influence” occurs when a person in power psychologically manipulates and persuades the testator to sign a will, eliminating the free will and judgment of the testator and is the most common cause for will contests.
• Unequal Shares
A common issue for family members of a testator is to contest a will when they have been left unequal shares of an estate. It is not uncommon for the testator to fail to provide an explanation as to why the estate has been divided unequally.
• Lack of Capacity
When a party feels that the testator lacked the mental capacity to fully understand and agree to the contents of their Last Will and Testament, that party may contest the will. Medical evidence tends to be very important in these types of contests.
• Cut out of Will
When a party is omitted from, or “cut out” of a will, they may file a claim challenging the validity of the will based upon undue influence or capacity arguments.
• Power of Attorney Abuse
A power of attorney document provides a secondary party the capacity to make major decisions on behalf of the “principal”. When the secondary party makes imprudent or inappropriate decisions about the estate and abuses the power given to them, parties may seek to hold this person liable.
• Conflict of Interest
Will contests due to perceived conflicts of interest can occur when the attorney documenting the testator’s estate is faced with dueling loyalty to clients. Usually this involves loyalty to the testator as well as a named beneficiary.
Our law firm’s Probate Litigation team counsels parties in the defense and the prosecution of claims for contested wills due to lack of capacity, undue influence, unequal shares, conflicts of interest, and being cut out of a will. We work closely with outside experts to review medical and accounting records; which allow us to obtain and accurately confirm information about the testator and the estate.
Our attorneys represent anyone whose interests under a will or trust that are in dispute, or anyone who is concerned about the way in which a vulnerable or incompetent relative’s estate is being managed. We litigate business and partnership issues that need to be resolved in probate court, as well as familial disputes with respect to a testator’s will.
Contact us today for a free initial consultation.