A will is something that must be prioritized, especially if you are a person of legal age with assets and valuables. Preparing for a will doesn’t mean that you’re about to pass, but it’s just preparation in case anything happens to you. If you don’t want your assets to land on predators or creditors, draft your will so that everything will be passed on to your loved ones.
So, in this article, you’ll know more about contesting a will. If you’ve already created your will and probated it, you or someone can still challenge it.
What Does It Mean to Contest a Will?
Contesting a will means that you or an interested party is challenging the validity or terms of the will you created. After your passing, your property and assets will be handled by the court. They are the ones who will distribute your assets based on the instructions you’ve written in your last will and testament. The division of your assets and property among your heirs should be done in a court-directed process called probate. But, you or interested parties mentioned in the will can still contest your will after probate has been granted.
What Are the Grounds for Contesting a Will?
Contesting a will does not usually happen, but it’s still possible, especially if the person qualifies on some grounds. To give you an idea, here are some of the reasons why you or your loved ones might contest a will.
- If the Will Writer Wasn’t of Sound Mind – The written will and testament will only be valid if the writer is in the sound mind to make important decisions and understands its impact. If the writer didn’t have the mental capacity to understand what is happening around them, interested parties could challenge the probated will.
- If the Will Writer Was under the Influence of Someone Else – To be valid, your will must be written without undue influence. If someone has pressured or manipulated you to write your will, you can challenge it after probate.
- If the Document Is Not Clear If It’s Intended to Be a Will – Writers of the will should include a written statement that the document is their last will and testament. If there is none, the document can be contested and possibly thrown out.
- If the Will Has Missing Signatures from the Will Maker and Witness – Your will must be signed by you and at least two disinterested witnesses not mentioned in the will, or else, it will not be valid or could be thrown out.
- If the Heir Disagrees with the Terms in the Will – An heir can contest a will if they are not happy with how the will writer divided the estate.
Is There a Deadline for Contesting a Will?
After probate has been granted, the state will only give you a certain amount of time to contest a will. The time limit is called the statute of limitations, and the number of days in the statute of limitations varies by state. On average, you can have a statute of limitations ranging from 30 days to several months. Remember, the start of the statute of limitations is from the date probate has been granted, not the date of death of the will maker.
If you don’t want your will to be contested, it’s best to consult your attorney about it. You can even discuss your will with the interested parties to avoid any disputes in the future. Contesting a will can be challenging for you and your loved ones, so it’s best to prevent this from happening by having a will and testament that is clear and concise.
If you need help in writing your will, Zukerberg & Halperin is here to help! We have the best trusts and estates lawyers in DC, Maryland, and Virginia to help you with any of your concerns related to wills and trusts. Contact us today to speak with one of our attorneys about your estate needs!