Challenging a Will FAQs: What You Need to Know About Estate Disputes

Estate disputes can tear apart relationships, especially feuding family members who are disagreement in the distribution of a loved one’s assets the moment he or she passed away. But estate disputes need not tear apart a family. Conversely, it can help initiate better communication between family members through mediation facilitated by estate lawyers. Estate disputes often begin when a beneficiary expresses interest in contesting a will or challenging a will. Note that these are two entirely different things. Contesting a will means that the beneficiary or claimant is not properly or fairly provided for in the will, while challenging a will means that the validity of the will is in question for several reasons and that it must be struck out entirely. When challenging a will, there are several things to consider. Here are the top 5 most common challenging a will FAQs that one might have in mind and the answers to these burning questions.

Top 5 Most Common Challenging a Will FAQs

What does it mean when you are challenging a will in an estate dispute?

One of the most common challenging a will FAQs is, what does it really mean to challenge a will? While contesting a will means that a beneficiary may be “in contest” with other beneficiaries to get a better part of the estate, challenging a will involves confirming the validity of the will. Challenging a will often arises when a beneficiary believes that the will must be voided for several reasons, discussed below.

What are the most common reasons for challenging a will?

There are several reasons why a beneficiary may be interested in challenging a will. Most often, testamentary capacity comes into play when challenging a will. Testamentary capacity is defined by Find Law as “the capacity in executing a will to understand the nature and extent of one’s property and how one is disposing of it and to recognize the natural objects of one’s bounty.” A testator or will maker must have testamentary capacity for his or her will to be valid. A will is challenged when the testator or will maker’s testamentary capacity is in question based on his senility and mental capacity to write a will. His testamentary capacity may also be questioned if he was under the influence of a substance at the time he was writing the will. A will may also be challenged if there is enough evidence that the will was created through fraud, forgery, or undue influence. This means that the testator was being influenced or manipulated by another person to create a will that may benefit the manipulator more than the other beneficiaries. Because a will is an important legal document that outlines how an estate is to be administered, it’s important that it is dated (to identify the latest will, if there are multiple), and that it is signed by at least two witnesses. In the event that the will isn’t signed by the appropriate witnesses, this are grounds for challenging a will.

Who can challenge a will?

One of the most common challenging a will FAQs is, who can challenge a will? Just like in contesting a will, there are several factors that determine one’s eligibility to challenge a will. One may challenge a will if he or she is the spouse of the testator at the time of his or her death or if this person was in a living in a facto relationship with the deceased at the time of their death, including same sex partners. One is also eligible to challenge a will if they are the child of the deceased or a former spouse of the deceased. If a person was wholly or partly dependent on the deceased person and was part of the deceased’s household, he or she may challenge a will. Grandchildren of the deceased who were wholly or partly dependent on the testator may also challenge a will.

Does challenging a will involve costs?

The short answer to one of the most common challenging a will FAQs is yes. There will be costs involved if a will is challenged and is found to be invalid. Primarily, claimants must consult with estate lawyers to determine the next steps in estate disputes and make sure that all requirements are submitted, and schedules are followed. This is why it’s important to consult an estate lawyer. Some estate lawyers operate on a “no win, no fee” basis to enable clients to minimize costs and get better outcomes.

Do you need an estate lawyer or inheritance lawyer to challenge a will?

One of the most common challenging a will FAQs is, do you really need a lawyer to challenge a will? The answer is yes. Estate lawyers and inheritance lawyers are in the best position to provide sound advice and professional services to aid you in challenging a will. Estate lawyers help in determining your eligibility to challenge a will and guide you through the steps in doing so, ensuring that you are on schedule. Challenging a will involves abiding by certain schedules. In fact, an application to challenge a will must be submitted within six months after the grant of probate or administration has been given or three months from the time a notice for challenging a will has been given to the estate. It is crucial for claimants to follow these time frames to ensure the best outcomes for estate disputes.

Those who are interested in challenging a will are encouraged to consult an inheritance lawyer prior to proceeding with their case.

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