Can A Will Be Challenged?
The existence of a will does not guarantee that property will be distributed according to its terms. A legal challenge, called a will contest, may be brought by anyone with an interest in the will who believes it is invalid.
If you believe a will is invalid or if someone is challenging a will you are administering or benefiting from, an attorney skilled in will contest cases can help. Cassady Law Offices, P.C., has decades of experience with these difficult and emotionally charged cases, both in Las Vegas and throughout Nevada.
When Can A Will Be Contested?
State statute limits the amount of time to challenge the validity of a will. Circumstances in which a will may be legally invalid include:
- Later Will
If a later will was made it conforms to the legal requirements, then the later will replaces the earlier will.
A valid will requires that the decedent was of sound mind at the time the will was made. This means the decedent had the ability to generally understand the nature and extent of the property to be disposed, his or her relationship to those who would naturally claim a benefit from the will, and the practical effect of the will as executed. Proving that the decedent was mentally ill or under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time the will was made are ways to establish incapacity.
- Undue Influence
If at the time the will was made, the decedent did not exercise his or her judgment in making the will, but rather made the will according to the wishes of another, the will may be found invalid on the grounds of undue influence. Coercion, duress and fraud are examples of undue influence.
- Improper Execution
A will must be properly executed to be valid. This requires that the creation and the execution of the will conform to the state’s requirements, which can include the will having to be in writing and signed by the person making the will (the testator) and that the will be witnessed or notarized.
A will can be found invalid if any portion of the will, including any terms of the will or the signature of the testator or witnesses, is determined to be forged.
What Happens After A Successful Challenge?
If the validity of a will is successfully contested, the probate court may:
- Disallow only that part of the will that is successfully challenged
- Admit an earlier valid will (if one was made) in its place
- Determine that the decedent died intestate and distribute the assets according to the state’s intestate succession laws, which are the legal default rules for estates without a will
Speak To A Probate Lawyer
The consequences of a will contest are significant for all parties involved. If a will contest is a possibility, contact our firm to schedule a consultation with an attorney experienced in probate and estate administration who can help ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.