Estate issues can be a touchy subject, especially amongst those who may be set to inherit assets. People in Seattle are encouraged to handle their estate planning early on in life, and to keep those who may be party to their estates informed of what to expect. Doing so may help reduce the potential of a dispute arising amongst beneficiaries after one has passed on. Yet no amount of planning can ultimately eliminate the potential of a will contest to occur.
It may be easy for many to dismiss such action as a petty attempt to by one who has been disinherited to get what he or she feels entitled to. Yet there are legitimate times where the circumstances surrounding the creation of a will (or the unexplained amendment of one that has already been establish) should warrant further investigation. Those looking to challenge the validity of a will assume the burden of proof in pinpointing its deficiencies. According to the American Association of Retired Persons, there are four standard points that are often used to contest a will. These are:
- Undue influence
- Lack of capacity
- Improper execution
Proving fraud and undue influence may be difficult because it requires interpreting intent (often that of one is either uncooperative or deceased). Lack of capacity or improper execution of a will may be easier to argue given that tangible proof may exist in the form of medical records and court documents (or a lack thereof).
Washington state law allows one four months from the time an estate is probated to contest the validity of a will. The petitioner in such a case then has 90 days from the filing to serve notice of the will contest to the estate’s personal representative.