3 Tips To Contest Your Parent's Will

Posted on

Did you recently experience the passing of a parent? If so, this is likely a very difficult time. There are obvious emotional challenges after a parent's passing, but there can also be logistical issues like organizing the funeral or the visitation. There also may be financial issues to resolve, like distributing assets, selling property, and perhaps even settling debts. 

There could even be conflict regarding your parent's estate. That's especially true if you were left out of the will or your role in the will was minimized in a way that you think is inappropriate. You may even believe that the will is not legitimate. If that's the case, you do have the ability to challenge the will in court. Challenging a will is a difficult process, but it could be the best option if you believe there is deception in the process. Here are a few tips to challenge your parent's will.

Establish clear grounds 

A will can only be challenged under very specific circumstances. In most states, those grounds include forgery, the existence of multiple wills, a lack of capacity by the signer, and undue influence. For example, if your parent had Alzheimer's or other types of dementia when they signed the will, that could establish that they had the lack of capacity to know what they were signing. If you believe they were forced to sign, you could claim there was undue influence.

However, you cannot challenge the will simply because you think it is unfair or because you disagree with your parent's decision. There have to be legal grounds for the challenge.

Gather evidence and testimony

A challenge to a will is so difficult because the burden of proof is completely on the challenger. The will is assumed to be valid unless you can prove otherwise. That means you'll likely need significant testimony from witnesses and documented evidence to be successful. For example, perhaps someone witnessed your parent being forced to sign the will. Or maybe there are medical records that show their mental state was in decline. These are the types of evidence you'll need to overturn the will.

Act fast

You must challenge the will before the probate process is complete. Some states even have a very short statute of limitations on the challenge to a will. In fact, your window to challenge may only be a few months. If you believe the will is invalid, you'll need to contact a lawyer fast to file the challenge and start the evidence-gathering process. 

Contact an estate litigation attorney to learn more about the process of challenging your parent's will. It may be a difficult process, but ultimately it may be your best option.