The subject of will contests has long fascinated popular culture. From movies to books to television, the idea that family members would question whether a loved one’s will has remained valid is a plotline that surfaces with surprising frequency. One of the many reasons why this legal situation seems intriguing to many is that none of us truly knows whether our loved ones will respect our wishes (without hesitation or question) after we have passed away. Any number of complications can inspire individuals to call the validity of a will into question. When this occurs, they may turn to an experienced estate planning attorney for guidance as to how to question the validity of that will in court.
In order to prevent will contests from occurring, it is generally a good idea to work closely with an experienced estate planning attorney both when drafting your will and when updating your will. If you do not regularly update your will and estate plan, know that doing so on a relatively regular basis will help to establish that your most recently articulated wishes remain valid unless formally modified or revoked.
Will Contests – The Basics
There are any number of reasons why someone may seek to question the validity of a will. If a will (or an update to an existing will) seems to have been entered into under duress or while the will creator was not fully capable of articulating his or her wishes, this may serve as legitimate grounds for a will contest. Similarly, an individual may decide to contact an attorney and pursue a will contest if that individual was “cut out” or otherwise left out of a will. Sometimes the terms of a will come as a shock to loved ones and they cannot conceive that the will is “correct” and valid as articulated. The primary way you can avoid such scenarios is to speak openly with your loved ones about your wishes so that they do not receive a shock after you are gone.
There are also largely procedural reasons why wills are contested. Some states have ultra-specific regulations that govern how wills may be executed. It is partially for this reason that it is so important to speak with an attorney when making a will. Ensuring it is enforceable and that your wishes are ultimately respected is of the utmost importance.
Legal Guidance Is Available
If you have questions about either contesting an existing will or preventing your own will from someday becoming the subject of a will contest, please consider scheduling a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney today. Speaking with an attorney will not commit you to taking any sort of legal action. Instead, speaking with a lawyer will simply allow you to ask questions and receive guidance so that you can make an informed decision related to your family’s unique circumstances. Asking questions now may prevent you and your family from unnecessary stress down the road, so please do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with a law firm today.