CONTESTING A WILL? OUR EXPERIENCED WILL LAWYERS CAN HELP
When a loved one dies with a will and there is a question whether the loved one was forced to make the will, lacked the legal ability to make the will, or there are issues with how the will was prepared or executed, the ensuing dispute and litigation can be upsetting and extraordinarily challenging for the family members involved. Between emotional difficulties and legal complications, probate litigation can present serious challenges.
At May Herr & Grosh LLP, our estate litigation attorneys are here to make contesting a will easier. We represent plaintiffs and defendants in many probate litigation matters by thoroughly investigating claims of undue influence, fraud, or mistakes.
Whether you’re in the middle of a will contest case that threatens your fair share of an inheritance or want to contest the will of a late relative, we listen carefully to your position and represent your interests resulting in the preservation of assets for the rightful beneficiaries.
Put our decades of combined trial experience to work for you. Our lawyers in Lancaster, PA, have been helping families in estate and probate law matters since 1929.
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WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO CONTEST A WILL?
When someone contests a will, they assert the belief that the will is inaccurate and should be challenged. Contesting a will is not easy since it sometimes results in disagreements and legal entanglements for the named heirs.
In Pennsylvania, contesting a will can only be requested by those with legal grounds to do so. If you are a spouse, child, or another person who would have been an inheritor if the person died without a will, or you are a person named in previous versions of a will but are no longer included, you are more likely to have a case for a will contest. If you are a friend or want to contest a will on behalf of a beneficiary, you will be unable to.
When you consider contesting a will, consult with a legal professional to determine the best course of action. Having a will lawyer help you figure out if you have a case for contesting. An attorney may also help you reduce any potential disagreements with the other beneficiaries.
WHY WOULD SOMEONE CONTEST A WILL?
If a beneficiary believes there is something that challenges the validity of the will, there may be grounds for a will contest. There are many reasons someone may contest a will, including:
- The belief that the author of the will was not of sound mind when the will was written.
- The will was not signed with proper legal formalities.
- There is evidence of fraud or forgery.
- The will was being used as leverage for someone’s benefit, like a caretaker who says they will provide better medical care if gifted something in the will.
- The contester knows of a more recent will that was produced legally after the one presented.
Disliking or disagreeing with what you have been endowed is not grounds for contesting a will.
If you are thinking of contesting a will, you will need definitive evidence to change the contents of this legally binding document. You will need to have concrete evidence to back up your standing to contest. A will lawyer may be able to help you gather the information you need.
If you are unsure if you have the right to challenge, the probate lawyers at our law firm would be happy to speak with you about your concerns. Schedule a free consultation with us today.
ARE THERE CASES WHERE A WILL CANNOT BE CONTESTED?
If there are no grounds for contest, a will cannot be contested, and being dissatisfied with your inheritance is not grounds for a will contest. Some wills have a “no-contest clause,” which is a section of the will that states that if a beneficiary requests a contest, they forfeit their inheritance. Of course, these are general rules, so it is best to have an experienced lawyer familiar with probate law look at your case if you feel you have evidence to support your contention.
There is a statute of limitations on when you can contest a will. If you are beneficiary to a will that may have been forged or otherwise tampered with, speak with one of our lawyers in Lancaster, PA, as soon as possible for a free consultation.
DO YOU HAVE A CASE?
While only an experienced estate litigation attorney can decide if you have a case worth pursuing, it pays to be prepared with some basic information before you talk with us.
Most probate disputes begin when a family member or other loved one feels unjustly cut out of the will. Accusations may arise that the will is invalid due to coercion, undue influence, or lack of testamentary capacity. Sometimes, the administrator or estate executor is challenged to breach fiduciary duty through self-dealing, accounting errors, or other critical issues.
Other issues that can arise in litigation include:
- Allegations of forgery, in which a will was signed by someone other than the person identified as its maker
- A mistake on the part of the person who signed the will
- Lack of testamentary capacity, meaning that the maker of the will lacked the necessary understanding of their assets or beneficiaries
- Proof of heirs
- Ambiguous language in a will
- Tortious interference with the deceased’s expressed wishes regarding their will.
If you suspect mishandling in the execution of a will or estate administration or if you are accused of mismanagement of estate assets or undue influence, we are here to help you defend your rights. May Herr & Grosh LLP offers decades of trial experience, along with one-on-one personal attention to help you obtain the best results possible when contesting a will.