Wills are probated for one reason only...
...to validates and establish their legitimacy. Once a Will has been probated and accepted by the Court, the Trustee can then distribute the assets to the beneficiaries according to the wishes of the deceased. It is wisest to have the correct Will probated before contesting it. Otherwise, if the Court accepts the incorrect (invalid) version, it will require filing an action to invalidate the Will, delaying the distribution of assets and possibly causing family feuds.
There are many reasons Wills are challenged after Probate...
...and anyone with a vested or economic gain can challenge a Will, even after probate. The question is: do you think you can prevail and what do you hope to gain by doing so?
Many legitimate concerns exist that can motivate someone to challenge a Will after Probate - some are worth the risk. However, challenging a Will that has been through Probate can be very costly and the legalities/logistics difficult to navigate. This is where you need an experienced probate lawyer from the Law Firm of James C Shields to guide you; there may be other legal options. Your attorney will review your case and advise you whether you have legitimate grounds to challenge and discuss your chances for success. (1)
Below are some of the most common reasons Wills are challenged after Probate:
- Multiple Wills may exist and there is a question as to which is the Final Will
- A more recent version of the Will has been discovered
- The deceased did not have a proper Will
- The Will is forged
- Signatures are forged (must be substantiated)
- The deceased was coerced into making the Will
- Family disputes over certain assets
- State-defined provisions to surviving spouse or child not being followed
- The Will does not comply (in some manner) with the law
- The deceased did not have the mental capacity to make the will (must be substantiated)
- Discovery of maternal/paternal connection by a child of the deceased ignored in the will (must be substantiated)
- Family members may feel that the Trustee has not distributed the assets accordingly (2)
Once the Court has accepted a Will as the Final Will, it will take additional actions to invalidate it - a very expensive proposition.
Although 99% of Probated Wills process without incident, you will be best served to hire a probate attorney from the Law Offices of James C. Shields if any of the above circumstances apply to you.
Before you challenge, consider mediation as an alternative - keep an open mind to negotiating
Timing is of the essence...
...there are statutes of limitations & deadlines to be followed. Carefully preserve any relevant materials demonstrating the credibility of your case - share them with your attorney.
The legal process involved with challenging a Will moves very slowly. To get more information on your particular set of circumstances, contact the Law Offices of James C. Shields for a confidential consultation.