Steps which are taken for contesting a will consist of closely examining the will itself, the study of local estate and probate laws, hiring a lawyer, filing a dispute, and collecting any evidence. The will contesting process itself can turn out to be a lengthy, complex, and potentially expensive one if it is not professionally handled. A number of the steps can be carried out without the assistance of a lawyer while other steps will definitely require the guidance of an experienced legal professional.
- At first, somebody who is going through this procedure exams the document close up. If that same person happens to be a beneficiary, or may be named a beneficiary in the event that the will is overturned, the person contesting the will can by law file a dispute. Some wills include a “no contest clause,” which means that anybody who disputes it, runs the risk of being disinherited. There are some jurisdictions that will overlook this clause if there is enough evidence showing that the will is bogus.
- Following, the next step involves collecting knowledge about local estate and probate laws. Different laws on how to contest a will and in what time frame a dispute can be legally filed, will typically have to be looked into, and especially the ones on the reasons someone may go about renouncing a will. These may include undue influence applied on the testator, the testator’s state of mind, or an erroneous execution of the will itself, something like an unsigned document or a document completed without any authorisation from witnesses.
- It is here, that most people who are contesting a will contact lawyers that are experienced. The lawyers assist in determining the legitimacy of the disagreement and help to guide the contester through the correct legal channels. Filing a dispute requires a court hearing, and a lawyer aids in making sure all of the appropriate legal material is addressed. The lawyer also assists in presenting relevant evidence, the questioning of witnesses, and presenting a legally sound case for the overturning of the will.
- The lawyer will then draw up the initial dispute on behalf of those who are contesting the will. The dispute will then be filed in the court system and then a hearing date will be set. During this waiting for the hearing, contesters may carry on gathering evidence to help support the filing. This evidence may include documents such as previous wills, financial records, letters and correspondence, medical documentation relating to the testator’s mental state. Video or audio recordings and witness testimony can also be utilised as evidence.
- After the hearing is concluded, those whom are contesting a will have two choices. They might try to settle the case outside of court, or they can go ahead with a trial, which can bring about an emotional and financial toll, but the financial outcome may make it worthwhile.
Contact professionals with the experience in such matters to make sure you take the best route.