From our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: Bucks County Will Challenges
Most Recently Updated July 15, 2018.
“My grandfather, a resident of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, died of dementia 12 years ago. Shortly before his death, his will was changed, giving everything to my aunt. We believed that my grandfather died broke, but now that my aunt died, we found out that he had a joint account with her containing a large sum of money. The prior will states that I would receive a portion of his estate. Can I challenge the will?”
Bucks County Will Challenges
First, Determine What You Can Gain from a Will Contest.
First, a will challenge case alone based on Incapacity or Undue Influence, even if successful, would not help you. You stated that the funds were in a joint account. A joint account passes outside of probate, meaning the will has no effect on the joint ownership. To be successful, you would first have to prove that the joint account was created improperly—perhaps under undue influence or forgery—so that the assets would pour into the estate. Then you would have to prove that the existing will was invalid.
The Statute of Limitations.
Unfortunately, you have waited too long to pursue the case. Pennsylvania Will challenges or will contests must be brought within one year of the will’s probate with the Register of Wills. A will challenge is an appeal from that probate. And after one year you are no longer able to appeal that probate.
This time limit makes sense. Without a limit, there would never be a way to be sure that estate assets could be sold without a future challenge. If you had acted within one year you could have challenged the will. You were an interested party, because if the Will filed for probate was found invalid you would have inherited your portion of the estate. You would have then also had the right to do discovery and find out how the account became joint with your Aunt.
If you would like to have more details, read my Article, “Will Contests Explained for the Non-Lawyer: Everything You Need To Know.”
Further Will Contest Questions?
Will challenges are one part of the Will Contest process. By all means, if you want to learn more, please read my more detailed article, Will Contests and Will Challenges All You Need to Know.
In Conclusion: Bucks County Will Challenges
I hope that this article was helpful in explaining will challenges. Further, I included links to even more detailed information on my website. Therefore, please contact me and let me know how I did. Certainly, your comments and questions are welcome!
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Let our ((((—-Will Contest/Guardian/Probate Litigation—-, etc.)))) Lawyers help walk you through what can be a confusing process. To begin with, call to speak to one of our experienced (((((—same as the first sentence—and link to right page—-)))) Attorneys. By all means, our lawyers are ready to answer your questions. In fact, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. Ultimately our goal is to put our 25 years of estate litigation experience to work for you.
Wills, Trusts, Probate, and Estate Litigation It’s All We Do!
Author, Peter Klenk, Esq.