Did you expect to receive a certain inheritance from a loved one who recently passed away? Perhaps you didn’t receive what you thought you would, if anything at all. Even though you may be disappointed, this is not enough reason to challenge the validity of his or her will.
In order to do that, you must have a legally valid reason. The responsibility of proving that the will is not valid rests on you, and the only way that most courts, including those here in Washington, will do so is if good cause exists.
What makes a will invalid?
When determining whether you have legal grounds to contest the will of a loved one, look for the following circumstances:
- Do you think someone unduly influenced your loved one into signing the will that the executor presented for probate? In order to prove it, you will need to show circumstances such as isolating your loved one from family and friends, paying for the will or seeking out your loved one’s attorney to discuss the will.
- Did your loved one execute the will in accordance with current state law? State law outlines specific information and actions that must take place for a will to be valid, and if they are missing, you may be able to contest the will.
- Do you think that someone tricked your loved one into signing the will? This often happens when an individual has another person sign a will that he or she believes is another document, but you don’t have the option of asking the decedent what he or she thought the document was.
- Did your loved one lack the capacity to sign the will? Anyone signing a will must understand what he or she is doing, along with the implications of those actions, and if that is missing, the court may declare the will invalid.
As you can see, you have a tough road ahead of you if you believe that the will presented to the probate court is invalid. These cases can take time and money, and they have the potential of ruining family relationships. You will need to present a compelling case for the court to agree with you. If your instincts and the evidence make you believe you need to contest the will, you would greatly benefit from outlining the situation and circumstances to an attorney before moving forward.