Losing a loved one is a difficult and emotional process, but finding out that your loved one left you out of his or her will can bring anger and confusion in addition to grief. This can come as a shock, especially if you were under the assumption that you would be a beneficiary to the estate. If this happens to you, it is possible that you may have grounds to contest the will.
Contesting a will can be a confusing and complicated process, and you will need to first determine if this will be a prudent and effective course of action for you. Simply feeling angry or assuming that you would receive something from the estate does not necessarily mean you have grounds to challenge the will. A careful look at the entire situation is necessary in order to determine if this is a prudent way forward.
The complications of a will contest
Before you begin this process, it is important to understand that this will be a challenging process. This effort has to make financial sense, and what you are pursuing should be worth the time and expense you may have to put in. In order to have a valid reason to contest the will, you will need to be able to prove one of the following elements:
- Someone coerced the individual who created the will.
- The individual who created or changed the will had a diminished mental capacity at the time.
- Changes to the will are the result of some type of fraud.
If you are able to successfully prove that any of the above reasons led to your exclusion as an heir to the estate, the court may rule the will invalid and decide to enforce a previous version of the will. It is also possible a court could rule that you have a rightful claim to a portion of estate assets.
What is best?
The process of challenging a will is emotional, complex and a potentially expensive endeavor. Before you initiate the first step in this process, you may benefit from a careful assessment of your case and explanation of the legal options available to you. While litigation and a complex will contest is an option, other out-of-court solutions could also be effective in your case.