The loss of a loved one is always painful. Some people may also be shocked or saddened to learn they have been excluded from their family member’s will. The omission can be accidental or intentional. In some cases, a third party may have influenced their loved one’s decisions about the division of their estate. If you believe you were excluded from the will in error, there are practical steps you can take to challenge or contest the will.
Obtain a Copy of the Will
It is difficult to assess if the will was created under duress or diminished mental capacity until you see a copy for yourself. Ask the Personal Representative, the person appointed to administrate the estate, for the final copy and any previous copies as well. You can also go to the Register of Wills in the County where the estate is open, and ask to see the wills in person. Comparing different versions of the will can help you detect changes that suggest you may have been left out of the will.
If the will has already entered the legal process, or probate, to determine its validity, you can obtain a copy from probate court. Because some states have time limits on how long you must contest a will, it is important to request a copy as soon as possible.
Consult an Experienced Lawyer
Estate law is a unique legal specialty that is best left to an experienced lawyer for wills. Your estate lawyer reviews the will and considers your reasons for wanting to contest it. To contest a will you need to prove that the will is technically deficient, the deceased person lacked clarity of judgement when they changed or signed it, or did so because they were being pressured by a third party. In some cases, even if you do not have grounds to challenge a will, you may still have a claim on the estate. Your estate lawyer will consider every scenario and determine if you have a valid challenge.
File a Contest
If your estate lawyer believes there is a reason to challenge the will, they will file a contest against it. In doing so, your lawyer essentially asks the court to invalidate the latest version of the will and honor a previous version, listing you as a beneficiary.
You must show that the final version of the will was either changed erroneously or have another reason to believe you should receive part of the estate. Your lawyer may suggest considering mediation to bring a faster resolution and avoid a lengthy court battle.
Towson Wills and Estate Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Help Resolve Complex Estate Cases
No one likes to think about the loss of a loved one, but we do want to ensure their wishes are honored after their passing. If you believe your loved one created or changed their will under duress or diminished mental capacity, you may have valid reasons to challenge it. Our Towson wills and estate lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC handle all estate planning and administration matters.
We work with you to correctly and efficiently administrate a loved one’s estate when you are the executor. We are also prepared to challenge a will on your behalf. To discuss your situation, call 443-589-0150 or contact us online today. With offices in Hunt Valley and Towson, Maryland we proudly serve clients throughout the state.