If you were left out of a Will and think something improper or illegal was done relating to the will, there are steps you can take to remedy the situation. MarketWatch’s recent article entitled “What can you do if you are disinherited? Here are 5 reasons to challenge a will” gives us some common reasons for challenging a will, what to do if you believe your omission from a will is suspicious or invalid and how an estate attorney can help you contest a will. At Beck & Lenox Estate Planning and Elder Law, LLC, we take our responsibilities very seriously when helping a client create a will. Our job is to create a properly executed document that will stand up in court under any circumstance.
A person can leave their assets to generally any individuals or entities he or she wants. There are several reasons why you may have been left out of a testator’s will, many of which are legal and permissible. However, there are situations that impact the validity of the will, and a challenge may be appropriate. The following conditions may lead to a will contest:
Capacity. The testator didn’t have the proper capacity required at the time of the will’s creation. The law presumes that all testators were of sound mind and had the mental capacity required to create a will. Therefore, it’s a heavy burden to demonstrate that the testator lacked this capacity.
Undue Influence. This happens when a person is persuaded to act contrary to their own free will and, as a result, includes provisions in their will that the person would not have otherwise included. You must show that the person doing the influencing was in a position of authority over the testator and that he or she used control to reign over the testator.
Forgery or fraud. This can happen when an interested party wants more of the testator’s estate than they would have otherwise received.
Legally invalid. This challenge means that the will doesn’t meet the state’s statutory requirements for a will to be deemed valid on its face. This may include using disinterested witnesses and obtaining notarization.
A will may also include a “no contest clause,” which may result in a beneficiary losing out on their inheritance entirely, if they opt to challenge the will without sufficient cause.
Speak with a probate or estate attorney if you were left out of a will to help you see if the contest is worth your time, money and energy. Beck & Lenox will almost always get involved when it is a will they created for a client. It is not uncommon that a very complicated situation could be directed to attorneys that specialize in this area.
Reference: MarketWatch (April 12, 2022) “What can you do if you are disinherited? Here are 5 reasons to challenge a will”