If a person dies with a valid Last Will and Testament, the deceased person is said to have died “testate,” and the distribution of assets will be governed by the terms of the Will. The only way a Will becomes valid is by proving it in court by having a judge declare it a “valid” Last Will and Testament. But what if you think a Will is invalid? What do you do to bring the Court’s attention to the problem?
A Will can be challenged directly by means of a “Will Contest.” These types of actions are governed by state-specific statutes and there can be deadlines associated with filing them. Therefore, if you believe that a Will is invalid, you should immediately hire a probate attorney Memphis, TN routinely trusts so that he or she can advise you of what needs to be done. Some of the reasons a Will might be challenged are:
- The Will wasn’t executed and witnessed as required by law.
- The Decedent wasn’t of sound mind at the time the Will was executed.
- The Will was obtained through the undue influence of someone.
- The Will was obtained through the fraud of someone.
The purpose of a will contest is to determine once and for all who is entitled to inherit the decedent’s property. The primary question to be decided in a will contest is whether or not the decedent left a valid will. Everyone who claims an interest in the decedent’s estate has a right to become a party to the will contest action and to demand a trial on disputed questions of fact.
Not anyone can file a will contest action. As soon as the probate court is made aware of a will contest, it must determine whether the person seeking to contest the will has “standing” to pursue a will contest. Standing to pursue a will contest action is limited to those people who would benefit under the terms of another will or the laws of intestate succession if the will contest is successful. In other words, if you want to file a will contest action, you must stand to benefit if the will you challenge is set aside.
If you need help initiating a will contest action, or have questions about a Will or the probate process, contact the trusted probate attorney for advice.
Thanks to our friends and contributors at Patterson Bray who have significant experience in Wills, Trusts, and Estate Planning.