Dealing with a loved one’s death is difficult enough. Finding out that you have been left out from a will or a legacy you have anticipated becoming part of is a different matter. It could be upsetting, disheartening, and even demoralizing.
If you believe you were unjustly cut out from a will, you must take urgent legal action to argue to overturn the will’s contents. This is especially crucial if you suspect force, fraud, or even an impaired mental condition were factors in your exclusion. However, before you take any action, you should first evaluate if you are willing to face the associated difficulties.
Weighing Your Advantages and Assessing the Situation
Before proceeding with the legal steps, you must first understand that you may not have legal standing to oppose the will if you’re not a family member or were explicitly excluded prior to the deceased drafting the documents.
Now, if you’re ready and determined to contest the choice provisions, consider the expenses, risks, and advantages. For example, if the dead talked about leaving you with their properties after they die, ensure to recall all the crucial details in the conversation you’ve had.
Make a list of everything about the talk and the promises made. Then, whether it involves money, property, personal belongings, or beyond that, calculate the monetary value for each. If no details were mentioned but you took the heritage into account in vaguer terms, you must produce high and low estimations depending on what you know about the deceased’s estate.
Fair warning: if the estimates are less than double the legal representation retainer price, it’s best to cut your losses immediately. Estate battles aren’t uncommon, and they often wind up incurring more than the bequest. Weigh in every corner of your chances of winning the fight.
Obtaining copies of the last will
Whoever drafts the will has the last word over who can make it on the list. However, if you suspect that the intention has shifted due to duress or impaired psychological capability, it’s best to investigate further. Request a copy of the current documents and any earlier drafts, as well as an inventory of properties from the administrator. A professional executor will analyze the versions of the presented evidence and seek clarification of any substantial differences in most cases. A notification from them will be your first indication that you’ve been indeed left out of the will.
On the other hand, if you’re not informed before the testimony is received, seek a duplicate from the probate court. Additionally, they will tell you about the time limit for contesting the will. Given that each state has its own set of procedures and deadlines, so seek a professional to obtain copies and take legal actions as quickly as possible.
Seeking legal advice
Once you’ve obtained your copy and have weighed the pros and cons of contesting it, it’s time to prepare for the battle by hiring an expert estate litigation attorney. Ensure that you’re clear with your intentions and the outcome you want. Communicate the details with your lawyer.
Essentially, the decedent has the authority to distribute the inheritance according to their whims. Thus, you must have a legitimate reason to oppose their draft. This process entails proving that the deceased lacked the mental ability to grasp what was going on when they wrote the present will. You can also invalidate it by proving that someone or something forced them into amending the will or that the document itself did not comply with state law.
For these reasons, your lawyer can then decide if you stand a chance in pursuing the battle. However, if you lack substantial proof, you can still file a claim if you’ve proven that you’ve, for instance, completed unpaid labor for the testator for which you might claim expenses. You’d have to weigh the claim’s worth against the expense of submitting it once more.
Filing a contest
If your counsel found that you have sufficient grounds, your attorney will file a dispute to the will. This judicial action aims to have the present will declared void and the last will with you listed as a beneficiary enforced.
Disputing a will can become a complex process and even turn into a dangerous situation. There are legal obstacles to overcome, evidence that needs to be met, and, frequently, much resentment between you and the other family members. You will also bear the weight of proof, so brace yourself for a difficult battle.
Despite its hurdles, having a legal team with you increases your chance of winning the case. Thus, weigh your options well and ensure that everything is documented and well supported.