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Probate litigation: Do you have legitimate cause to challenge a will?

Perhaps your parents told you years ago that you would receive a substantial inheritance after they died. You may have had several discussions about their estate plans. Your siblings were no doubt included in these discussions where your parents made clear what they were planning to do. As is common in many Nevada households, life became busy or other issues arose that caused your mother or father to delay in signing a last will and testament. 

By the time everything was taken care of and both of your parents passed, you may have assumed that all necessary documents were in order and that you could expect to receive the inheritance your parents intended to provide for you. Since then, maybe you have encountered legal problems regarding your parents' will. You might even believe you have cause to challenge it in a probate court.

Legitimate reasons a probate judge might rule a will invalid

Do you and your siblings differ in your recollection of the discussions you had with your parents about their will? Maybe your parents wound up getting a divorce, and there was a remarriage. Perhaps your parent suffered from dementia or some other issue that adversely affected his or her mental health. The following list includes numerous issues that a probate judge might consider legitimate causes for challenging a last will and testament: 

  • The fact that your parent suffered from mental health decline may not, in itself, be just cause for challenging his or her will. It depends on whether the condition existed when he or she signed the will in question because a person must be of sound mind when signing estate planning documents.
  • Nevada and all other states have specific laws that govern the execution of estate plans. If you believe your parents did not sign their wills in accordance with such laws, it may be a legitimate cause for filing a challenge. 
  • If someone placed undue influence upon a testator when he or she was signing a last will and testament, this would also be a legitimate reason for challenging the will in court. For instance, if your parent remarried and you believe your stepparent coerced him or her into changing the will, you might issue a contest. 
  • Sadly, many people commit fraud concerning inheritances. If you have evidence that someone forged your parent's signature on a will, it is definitely an issue you can bring to the court's immediate attention.

Filing a challenge against a last will and testament does not necessarily mean the court will invalidate the will. You must determine ahead of time if you think the evidence you have is enough to convince the court that laws were disregarded or something was awry during the estate planning process that will prompt a ruling in your favor. 

Such situations are emotionally upsetting and often involve family discord, which is why it is so important to build a strong support network from the start if you plan on navigating the probate justice system. 

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