Depending on the size of the estate and other factors, contesting wills can be a costly process. Before filing a challenge it is wise to have a probate lawyer assess your realistic chances of winning the case.
There are contesting wills grounds that can support a challenge to a will, such as if the deceased was not of sound mind or lacked the mental capacity to understand what they were doing when they signed their current will or if the will did not follow state regulations. Another common reason for a challenge is if there was a newer will that was never made public or that someone was intentionally left out of the will (this is known as a revocation of testamentary gift).
Contesting Wills: Understanding the Grounds and Process of Challenging Testamentary Documents
In addition to having legal standing to challenge a will, you also need valid reasons for your dispute. Generally, the more specific your reasoning is, the better your chances of success. For example, let’s say that Monica makes a will leaving $5,000 each to her husband, Chandler; her brother, Ross; and her friend, Phoebe. Later, she is pressed into changing the will to exclude both Ross and Joey because of their relationship. This is a solid case for undue influence and would likely allow Ross to contest the will on this basis.
Taking a case to court can involve submitting evidence, testifying, or answering questions under oath (known as depositions). Once all of the evidence has been submitted, a judge will make a decision on the validity of the will. If you are successful, the will’s assets will then be distributed as you requested in your challenge.