By David Green
Contrary to popular belief, a Will or Last Will and Testament, isn’t always written in stone.
Quite frequently, disputes arise over the contents of a Will and the parties who are at odds must seek outside help to resolve the issues. Because there are often conflicts of interest around such disputes, it’s important for each party to retain appropriate legal guidance to ensure that their rights are protected.
There are many reasons a Will might be contested. The most common include cases of
• undue influence
• questionable competence
• improper execution
When the deceased has been divorced and or remarried, there are a host of other scenarios that could lead to someone challenging a Will.
For instance, a Will that was drawn up before a divorce and not updated after a second marriage might still include provisions for the ex-spouse, but not the new spouse. In other cases, a Will may fail to make provisions for the children of one of the marriages or even specifically disinherit the present spouse even though that individual is entitled to a widow’s allowances and elective share of the estate.
Clearly, there are many complex and delicate situations that might require someone to challenge a Will.
How to contest a Will
If you believe the Will of a loved one does not accurately reflect his or her true wishes, you may be able to contest it in Probate Court. During the probate process, there are certain steps that can be taken to protect your rights.
The process is not overly complex, but it does need to be done according to certain protocols.
1. You must first file an Objection to the Admission of the Will. This is a written document that should be submitted after you receive the Application for Administration or Probate of Will. The Objection explains why you wish to contest the Will and puts family members and other interested parties on notice as to why you think it shouldn’t be admitted.
2. Next, a hearing on the Will should be scheduled. The court may send notice to all parties informing them of the time and place of the hearing because every interested person listed in the Will has the right to attend the hearing. The primary purpose of a hearing is to provide equal opportunity for family members and other interested parties to ask questions and/or state objections regarding the Admission of the Will.
3. Once an Objection has been filed and a hearing has occurred, the court issues what is known as a “scheduling order” and sets a date for trial. A scheduling order is simply a list of dates by which the parties need to complete certain investigative tasks that must be addressed before trial begins.
What happens at the trial?
At trial, each party has the opportunity to present the court with all the information they learned during their investigation. They may call expert witnesses, family members, and other fact witnesses to testify. At the end, the party contesting the Will asks the court to deny Admission of the Will based on the evidence that it does not reflect what their loved one would have wanted.
If you wish to contest the validity of a Will, your case will benefit greatly from professional representation. At CzepigaDalyPope, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and will work with you and your family in any and all types of Will contests involving personal property, bank accounts, and real estate.
Just because something is in a Will doesn’t mean it’s the last word. Contact us to ensure that the decedent’s true intentions are carried out fairly and justly.
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