Nobody likes to ponder about inheritance especially after a loved one's death but the fact is inheriting something, especially something substantial, can make for a more comfortable future for you and your family.
Wills are what we use to make sure our descendants are well cared for after our demise. But every family experiences tough times and it so happens that some members of the family can be left out of a will. This isn't always the intention of the testator and can sometimes be the result of other people exerting influence over the decision.
Before deciding to challenge or contest a will, make sure you have a proper reason for doing so. Not all wills can be successfully challenged and keep in mind that such affairs can extend for considerable periods of time. Many don't want the bother of potentially difficult court cases and just let wills go uncontested.
The people who challenge a will are usually spouses, ex-spouses, children and grandchildren. The reasons could be any one of a large number. With recent changes in legislation, it's best to consult a lawyer who can advise you on the best course of action to take and make the process less confusing. For your information, here are a few common grounds for challenging a will.
• The will was procured by fraud: Not a very common case but occurring nonetheless, you have the right to contest a will procured by fraud. This can happen if the testator is made to assume that what he's signing is something else when it's actually a will.
• The will was signed without being in accordance with state laws: State laws vary and what applies in one doesn't necessarily in another. If a will was signed in accordance with the laws of another state and executed in a different state, it may be challenged. It can also be challenged if the will was signed without complying with the laws of the state.
• The testator was forced/influenced into signing the will: As much as we don't like to acknowledge it, there have been instances where ailing testators have been made to create a will by people seeking to receive a portion of the assets. If you suspect this is case and have proof you can contest a will under this reason.
There are other grounds for challenging a will and these are just a few. Consulting with a good lawyer will reveal more options open to you.
Most applications for contesting a will must be made no later than 12 months from the death of the testator. This duration can be revised by the court. Once an application is made, the court will take into consideration several factors of which a few include the type and value of the property, needs of other dependants and the applicant's, if changes to the will may affect those named in the will, and the ages of the surviving dependents.
Ultimately, the court will decide whether it should interfere in the matter. Not all applications are entertained so be prepared for whatever outcome despite your best efforts. Hiring a good lawyer may, however, increase the odds of having your application considered and hopefully, granted.
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