If you’ve had a parent or close relative pass away and have been left out of the will, then you may have grounds to contest it. Even if a person doesn’t leave a will, their relatives may still lay claim to any assets they had when they died. This information can help you get what is rightfully yours from a relative’s estate.
Legal Reasons for Contesting a Will
To legally contest a will, you must have legitimate reasons for doing so. You cannot just claim it was unfair to you to adequately challenge it. The legal rights for contesting a will may differ slightly depending on the state you live in, but they usually include not leaving enough support for a dependent to live on or a will that is determined to be invalid.
A will may be invalid if it is found to be a forgery, was made under undue influence, or if the testator, usually referred to the will-maker now, did not have the mental capacity to sign the will. If it was somehow coerced by another relative or a company, such as a nursing facility, then you may be able to have it invalidated.
Who Can Contest Wills?
Only certain people can contest a will and try to have it invalidated or get the assets redistributed. These people include:
- The surviving spouse of the deceased.
- The deceased’s de facto partner.
- A former spouse.
- A child of the deceased.
- A grandchild or another member of the household who lived with the deceased and was dependent on their support.
- People who had a close relationship with the deceased, but wasn’t a paid companion, such as a roommate.
In some circumstances, will disputes may be made by parents, siblings, step-children or a former de facto spouse.
Leaving out a Child
Although the will-maker may have wanted to leave one of their children out of their will, it can be hard to do so. There needs to be evidence the parent and child were estranged; otherwise, their child, which includes an adopted child, may successfully contest the will.
Time Limits for Disputes
There is a time limit for contesting once you’ve learned your parent or other relative has died. Your attorney must file a claim within 12 months of their death. However, if someone who is eligible to file a dispute learns of the deceased’s death after the 12 months, then a time extension may be granted if there is sufficient cause for it.
To contest a will, contact an attorney who has experience in challenging wills and filing claims for eligible persons. They can help you file a petition to try to get the assets to which you’re entitled.