In most cases, the will decides what happens with a person's estate. However, if one of the beneficiaries or someone who was left out of the will decides to challenge it, the court could have the final say on the division of an estate. There are several possible reasons for challenging a will that a court might find acceptable. To help you determine if you have a reason to challenge one, here are some of the most commonly used methods.
Lack of Appropriate Witnesses
Each state has requirements regarding how many witnesses are needed for a will to be considered valid. If the will you want to challenge does not have the required signatures, there is a possibility that you can petition the court to have the will invalidated.
It is important to note that if the will was drafted and filed in a state that allows holographic wills, having witnesses sign the does not matter. A holographic will is basically a handwritten will that is completely in the deceased's handwriting from top to bottom. If the will is, no witnesses are required.
To challenge this will, you would need to prove that the handwriting is not that of the deceased. A handwriting expert could aid in proving this. The court might also allow witness testimonies that can confirm the intentions of the deceased.
A Newer Will Was Created
In every state, the most recent will that meets all of the law's requirements is considered to be the valid one. However, if the will filed with the probate court is an older will, you could challenge it based on the fact that there is a newer will.
You could face issues though. Some states have specific requirements that dictate exactly how an older will is considered invalid. For instance, the state in which the will was drafted and filed might have a requirement that the newer will state that it is intended to replace an older one.
If the newer will does not conform to the state's requirements, you could run into issues with your challenge. However, there is the possibility that you could challenge the will using another possible reason.
An estate planning attorney can help you determine if you have a chance of successfully challenging a will. If so, the attorney can help with filing the necessary documentation to begin the process of contesting the will in the court.
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