Skip to Content
Klenk Law

Will Contests and Will Challenges

As Will Challenge Attorneys, we regularly represent clients in defending and challenging the validity of wills and trusts. Typically, these disputes involve a challenge or contest the validity of a will or trust as a result of many factors, including, but not limited to, undue influence, forgery, fraud and lack of testamentary capacity. Our years of experience focusing on these challenges allow us to explain these complex matters to clients in a simple, direct fashion. We work with clients to analyze the case’s strengths and weaknesses and to arrive at a plan of attack or defense that is in your best interest.

What is a Will Contest or a Will Challenge?

The heart of a Will Challenge is the belief that the offered Will does not reflect the testator’s actual intent or that the Will is otherwise invalid. A Will Contest begins with a formal objection to the validity of a Will. We file these formal objections in specific locations, such as the Register of Wills, Surrogate, or the Orphans’ Court. Specific procedural rules govern Will Challenges, and failure to follow these standards can lead to the case’s dismissal. It is of vital importance to correctly craft and file the initial Will Challenge Petition. If filed incorrectly, crucial issues might be later barred. For more detailed information, see my page “Will Contests for Non-Lawyer.” 

What is the Basis of a Will Challenge?

Just claiming that a Will does not reflect the deceased’s intent is not enough. There must be a legal basis and theory for dismissing the offered Will. Examples of grounds for a Will Challenge include:

  • Undue Influence
  • Duress or Coercion
  • Fraud
  • Forgery
  • Lack of Testamentary Capacity
  • Superseded Will – If you discover a more recently executed Will before the Statute of Limitations Period lapses, you can have your Estate Litigation Attorney submit the Will to replace the prior filed Will. Interested Parties may challenge this new Will. Or, at a minimum, the new Will shall require precise shifting of assets from the current executor to the new executor. A Formal Accounting might be necessary or new purchase agreements and bank accounts. Develop a sound strategy with an experienced Probate Lawyer.
  • Improper Will Execution – Every jurisdiction has specific rules regarding proper Will execution. If not followed, the Will is invalid. A Will Contest based on Improper Will Execution arises when an interested person claims the rules were not followed and seeks an order to exclude the offered Will.

Common Questions about Will Challenges:

Can I Contest a Will?

If within the statute of limitations period, an interested party can challenge a Will.

How long does it take to Contest a Will?

A Will Contest that does not settle, and goes to trial, can take up to two years until completion.

Who can Contest a Will?

An interested party can contest a Will. An interested party is someone who can demonstrate financial harm created by the Will.

What makes a Will Invalid?

Several reasons can make a Will invalid including Undue Influence, Duress or Coercion, Fraud, Forgery, and Lack of Testamentary Capacity.

What do Will Formalities mean?

In the context of a Will Contest, “Will Formalities” refers to the state rules regarding proper Will execution. For example, the number of witnesses and signature locations. If these rules are not followed the Will is not a Will.

How do you Contest a Will?

A Will Contest begins when an interested party has their Will Contest Lawyer draft a petition spelling out the Will Contests’ basis, which is filed in the appropriate court.

How long do you have to Contest a Will?

Each state has a statute of limitations period. Contact our Will Contest Lawyer, let us know in which jurisdiction the Will falls, and we can tell you how long you have to contest the Will.

Can I Contest a Will after Probate?

If the statute of limitations period has not passed, you can challenge a Will after it has been probated.

What are the grounds for a Will Contest?

Grounds for a Will Contest include Undue Influence, Duress or Coercion, Fraud, Forgery, Lack of Testamentary Capacity, Superseded Will and Improper Will Execution.

How long does a Will Challenge Take?

A Will Challenge that does not settle and goes to trial can take up to two years.

Who pays for Contesting a Will?

The person contesting the Will pays his bill, and the person defending the Will pays her bill. Typically, the estate does not pay any portion of the contest expense.

What is required to Contest a Will?

The contestant must be an interested person, pay the costs involved and prove to the judge that the Will is not valid because of Undue Influence, Duress or Coercion, Fraud, Forgery, Lack of Testamentary Capacity, Superseded Will or Improper Will Execution.

What type of Lawyer do I need to Contest a Will?

When searching for an attorney experienced in Will Contests, use the search terms Estate Litigation Lawyer or a Will Contest Lawyer.

Can you Contest a Will before Probate?

Before probate, have your Will Contest Lawyer file a Caveat. This gives you the chance to review the Will before it is accepted into Probate.

Do I need a Will Contest Attorney?

If you need brain surgery, you go to a brain surgeon, not a general practitioner. Sure a general practitioner can perform brain surgery but expect a messy result. The same holds true for a Will Contest Attorney. Will Contest cases are highly technical. It takes years of practice in this specific area to accumulate enough experience and knowledge to both attack and defend a Will in a Will Contest.

A successful Will Challenge Attorney requires not only a litigator’s skills, but also an in-depth knowledge of the specific court overseeing the Will Contest as well as Probate, Estate Planning and the interpretation of Wills and Trusts. Like brain surgery, these are skills impossible to pick up quickly. Only a experienced Will Contest Lawyer should be trusted to handle a Will Contest.

Does a Real Will Challenge Lawyer Save You Money?

A Will Challenge Lawyer will likely reduce the estate litigation cost. By being familiar with the process and the court system, a Will Challenge Lawyer can more quickly identify and address issues. Experience with discovery methods and time-taught knowledge of what steps are usually successful helps reach conclusions more quickly. In short, a Will Contest Lawyer saves you money.

Reasonable Prices | Years of Experience | We Stand With You and We Fight For You

If you have any questions about a Will Contest or any other estate law topics please contact us to schedule a free consultation.

Our firm has managed successful Will Challenges, as well as successfully defending valid Wills from wrongful Will Challenges, throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Florida. Though headquartered in Philadelphia, our particular set of litigation skills are in demand near and far. Our litigation team is solely focused on estate matters. Few lawyers focus their entire practice on Estate Litigation, so when someone wants an experienced Will Contest Attorney to challenge a Will or defend a Will, they turn to us.

What Our clients are saying

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Peter provided outstanding advice and preparation of a will and trusts.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Peter was excellent. He explained everything very clearly and is super friendly. My wife and I originally tried using a lawyer through group legal coverage, but unfortunately the old adage - "you get what you pay for" - applied to the other lawyer, and we decided to go with a real professional.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

When it came down to picking the right attorney to handle my affairs, I knew right away it was this firm. From speaking to their secretary to speaking to Peter I knew I was making the right decision. After only a few mins Peter knew right away what I was looking for and handled all my questions professionally and even gave me great feedback that put my mind at ease. All that without even giving a single penny! So of course I hired him! So far so good...

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

AWESOME LAWYER! Peter Klenk is an exceptional attorney and a very nice person! Today I spoke with Peter about estate planning and was impressed with by his professionalism, cordiality, and attention to detail. I highly recommend Klenk Law for probates, wills, trusts, and other issues germane to estate planning!

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Great friendly staff

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Tremendous firm with bright, kind and tenacious people. Great representation for our family.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

I'm totally satisfied with Klenk Law. Peter has a great legal mind with the personality of the guy next door.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Everything about my experience was a 10+! Peter and his staff made what I thought would be a difficult process easy and understandable. Every detail was handled correctly. No other firm could possibly do better than Klenk Law!

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Peter and his staff are very responsive and always willing to help my clients and in a cost efficient manner.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Like another reviewer, I contacted Peter through his website using the free consultation link, for a question regarding PA inheritance taxes. The question was quite technical and difficult to explain, and the answer was nowhere to be found on the web. Peter grasped precisely what I was asking, and provided a clear, helpful response (with a touch of humor) the very next day.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Answered my question quickly and referred me to a colleague that could handle my problem

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Mr. Klenk, quickly understood the circumstances presented and provided clear and concise advice. This advice provided me with the information I required to progress the case to my advantage.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Peter is excellent. I had a very complicated situation with my parents' estate planning and potential Medicaid needs. Peter was very knowledgeable in estate planning matters, able to define the best solution for the situation. Additionally, he was congenial and able to communicate effectively to my senior citizen parents the benefits of estate planning. He earned my trust, and more importantly, my parents' trust in a 45 mins consultation period. Highly recommend Peter. He is very easy to work with.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Peter recently gave a presentation about Wills & Trusts at my employer, and it was fantastic! He was extremely knowledgeable and provided valuable information to the group. People were very engaged and asked several questions, all of which Peter thoroughly answered. Personally, my husband and I have selected Peter to help us with our estate planning, and he has been very helpful in providing us with all of the information we need to provide a secure future for our family. Thank you, Peter!

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Peter provided outstanding advice and preparation of a will and trusts.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Peter explained things in a way that was easy to understand. Everything was done in the time frame he said it. Could not have been better!

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

You & your staff are the best thank you for everything.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Peter and his staff handled all of our needs in a very professional and timely matter.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Peter Klenk made a complex subject understandable and allowed us to move forward with our estate planning. He was patient with our questions and creative in the solutions he proposed.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Peter explained a complex subject very clearly, helped us to decide the best approach to managing our estate and then made it very easy for us to execute the required documents. He will be a valuable resource for years to come and clearly has a great understanding of estate law that will lead to innovative solutions for us. I would unhesitatingly recommend him for estate planning.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Fantastic customer service. Very personable and most importantly they provide great explanations of what is required based on your individual needs. Highly recommend Klenk Law for anyone that needs to create a will and estate documents.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Always professional and very responsive. Everyone on the staff that I have worked with. I look forward to continuing our relationship.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Surprisingly easy

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Affable...yet surprisingly cerebral estate planning atty. High marks all the way around.

Klenk Law Logo
Stars

Peter and his associates made things easy for us.

Let us put our expertise to work for you.

Free consultation within 24 hours.