A person’s will is created to ensure the smooth transfer of assets from the deceased to living friends and family members. In the majority of probate cases, a will is admitted and approved for probate without being contested, and the process is relatively painless. However, this isn’t always the case. Often times, disgruntled family members choose to contest the probate of a will, which can lead to a protracted legal battle. If you have been named the executor (or “personal representative”) of a loved one’s will, and the will is contested by another party, you should consult with a local attorney familiar with the pertinent law.
How a Will is Contested
Before a will is contested in Lexington, or any other state, it must be proven that certain requirements of constructing a valid will were not met. Wills can be contested under the following set of circumstances:
- The person who created the will was under 18 years of age
- The person who created the will was not of “sound mind” when the will was created
- The will was fraudulently created or was created under “undue influence” (i.e. the person was forced or coerced in a significant way)
- The requirement of two witnesses was not satisfied
- The will that has been presented for probate was revoked because a more recent will was discovered
The petition to contest a will must be filed with the court of the county in which it was presented for probate within two years of the original admission of the will.
The Next Steps
If you find yourself in the position of defending a will that has been contested, the first thing that you should do is determine the reason why it was contested. That will help you to understand the basis the challenge.
When it comes to probate law, the language that has been put into a will is of the greatest importance. In most cases, a court will uphold the original will if the legal requirements were satisfied, but doing so can take months or even years to conclude.
Preparation is Key
The best way to combat the contestation of a will is to ensure that the will meets all the requirements of Kentucky law before it is submitted to probate. Contesting a will is a long and expensive process, so many people will not be willing to begin that process if they do not think there is a chance that their challenge will prevail.
It is important for a will to be created and treated with care, and hiring a lawyer to help plan your estate is a great way to avoid any challenges against your will. If you need assistance with the probate process, contesting a will, or defending a contested will, contact us today.