Losing a loved one is an emotional time for us all. It is a time of grieving and great loss. Being surprised by an unfair share of an estate or being left out of the will can add salt to the wound. During this emotional time, it can be confusing and frustrating. Although you don’t want to appear greedy, there are many valid reasons where challenging a will is not only the right thing to do but the honorable thing to do as well.
When one prepares a will, the intent is to have your wishes regarding distribution of your property, care of your minor children, and assets in a legal document for when you pass away. This legally binding document is the best way to ensure your wishes are carried out upon death and that your family is cared for the way you would like.
The problem with a will arises under a number of circumstances that can warrant you challenging a will.
Legitimate Reasons for Challenging a Will
- Will wasn’t signed by deceased, by a witness, or notarized as per the state’s law
- Person writing will was incompetent or not of sound mind wen the will was written
- Unequal distributions between families or distributions to non-family members or organizations that may have been forced. Maybe mom said she’d split everything equally between kids but left everything to one child, friend, or organization.
- Fraud or undue influence – the will isn’t the intentions of the deceased and was signed unknowingly from them, thinking they were singing something else.
- Multiple wills – the latest revision of the will trumps previous wills. Be sure the will being used is the current one.
Who can Challenge a Will?
Not just anyone can challenge a will, but there are eligible persons in the eyes of the court including husband, wife, ex-husband, ex-wife, De facto, child, grandchildren, member of household, or a close personal friend.
In fact, if you are a spouse or minor child and not in a will of a wife/husband or parent, you legally have a right to those assets and cannot be left out of the deceased’s will. A spouse has the right to whatever they are entitled to under state law, regardless if they are in the will. The same goes for children, minor children are protected by the court to receive financial support that is left.
You can even challenge an estate if there is no will at all.
Although challenging a will can be difficult, there are legitimate reasons and people who can.