how to contest a will

Are you left out of the will? If yes, then what will you do next? Well, before you knock the doors of the court, consider these situations:

Situation 1: You do not belong to the testator’s (a person who creates a will) clan. And, your name was not there in his/her previous will.

Situation 2: You are family, and the deceased person has discussed an inheritance with you earlier. But, you find out that your name isn’t mentioned in the current will.

Situation 3: You belong to the deceased person’s clique and still your name is not on the current will.

What will be you next step?

If you are someone who is falling into situation 1, then you don’t have any right to contest a will.

But, if you face situation 2 or 3, then you must consider these parameters:

Count your costs

You were supposed to inherit a share of the testator’s property. But, you find out that the current will does not have your name in it. What will you do in this situation? Well! Before you appoint a lawyer, write down the things that you and the testator have discussed earlier. And, based on this discussion, calculate the dollar value. Give a maximum and minimum amount that you would have received on the basis of the deceased person’s valuation of the estate. But, if you see that your estimated amount isn’t covering the cost of the consultation of an estate lawyer, then just walk away.

If you consider that contesting a will would benefit you, then go ahead with the next steps:

Pick up a copy of the will

The person who creates a will has the veto power over the will. If you realize that the will has been changed, then uncover the reasons behind it. You can ask the executor for:

  • the current will
  • previous versions of the will, if any
  • a list of all the assets.

If your luck favors and you come across a good executor, then he/she will give you all the necessary information regarding the will. But, if the will enters the probate without your knowledge, then you’ll have to get the copy of the will from the probate court. You’ll also be informed how long you have to contest the will. Different states have different rules and guidelines for contesting a will.

Hire a lawyer

You somehow managed to get the copy of the will. What will you do next? Well, it’s time to hire a lawyer. Now, show the will to your attorney and state the reasons why you want to file a lawsuit. You should have a strong and valid reason if you want to file a lawsuit. You also need to prove your points such as:

  • the circumstances under, which the current will was signed was not right,
  • the testator has been pressurized to change the will,
  • the testator lacked the intellectual power when he/she signed the will, and so on.

Based on these points, your lawyer will tell you whether or not you’ll win the challenge. If you don’t have valid reasons, then there is a probability that you can't make a claim on the testator’s estate.

Contest a will

If you have valid grounds, then your attorney can file a contest against the will. The main objective of this legal procedure is to nullify the current will and to reinforce a previous will that has your name as a beneficiary. Fighting a legal challenge is tough. Make yourself prepared to face the difficulties.

Consider negotiation

Rather than fighting a prolonged court battle, you can also negotiate the matter out of court. Your lawyer will guide you in that situation. Out of court settlement is much peaceful rather than a court battle.

Hope that now you know what to do when left out of the will. Before filing a contest, make sure you have solid financial gains and enough proof to win the challenge.

Don’t miss out - Are you sure you’re not missing out anything in your will?

  • expertise badge
  • TrustLink logoTrustLink logo
  • Customer ratings on BBB
  • IAPDA logo
  • Calchamber Member
  • Calbar Registered
  • D&B
  • Trustpilot
  • yelp logo