From Our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: “My sister has given us a copy of a will she says is from my father. This will gives her everything and excludes my brother and me. I think the Will is a forgery. What are the Steps to Contesting a Will?”
Steps to Contesting a Will.
Will Contests are a unique, focused area of the law. The rules are complex, and the procedures can differ from county-to-county. The Will Contest Lawyers at our firm have years of Will Contest experience. It’s What We Do.
You mentioned forgery. The initial step will be reviewing the facts. There are many reasons why a Will may be invalid. For example, you may contest the will’s validity as a result of undue influence, forgery, fraud, or lack of testamentary capacity.
We will review the unique facts of your case to craft the most successful petition. We want to address all relevant issues given the case strategy, as if we don’t raise them, then they can be waived.
Having an experienced attorney advise you is an important step in a successful will challenge.
The initial step in How to Contest A Will and Win is determining if you have the legal right challenge the will. To succeed, you must file the challenge within the Statute of Limitations period and be an Interested Party.
Only people who have been damaged by the Will can challenge the Will. An Interested Party is someone who can demonstrate harm has resulted from the Will.
For example, if the Will your sister has presented excludes you, but your father’s prior Will divides his estate equally between his children, you are an interested party. The “new” Will reduces your inheritance. But, if your father’s prior Will also excluded you, then this new Will does you no harm. You are not an interested party.
What Is the Procedure?
After filing the Petition, the real work begins. The judge will set a time for Discovery. The time given for Discovery is up to the judge, but six to nine months is typical. Cases are made or lost in Discovery. Discovery includes gathering documents, records, and physical evidence. It includes depositions and interviews with clients and the hiring and preparation of expert witnesses. It includes long hours of reviewing all of this evidence, brainstorming options and then filling any holes with even more evidence. In the end, a case must be presented, and the judge satisfying the standards and is allowable within the Rules of Evidence.
After a few months of discovery, and getting a good idea of how many witnesses will testify and what evidence must be presented at trial, we can begin giving you estimates of how many days the trial will take. A will contest trial could be completed in one day, or it could take weeks. Further, the judge’s schedule may require the trial to be spread out over weeks or months.
For more detailed information about How to Contest A Will and Win, see my page “Will Contests for Non-Lawyer.”
In Conclusion: Steps to Contesting a Will.
I hope you found helpful this short article about the Steps to Contesting a Will. I have also included some links for more detailed information. If you are curious about pursuing a Will Contest, contact us and let our Will Contest Lawyers help walk you through what can be a confusing process. In fact, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.
Wills, Trusts, Probate, and Estate Litigation, It’s All We Do!
It’s What We Do!