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When should a person consider contesting a will?

Many adults create an estate plan before they pass away. They do this in the hope that their heirs will be able to distribute the assets without any issues. There are some cases in which questions might come up about the validity of the plan, specifically the will.

While they aren't all that common, will challenges do occur. Individuals who think that their loved one's will isn't valid should learn about the options they have. One of the first things to do is to find out if you can file a claim with the court.

Are you a person who can file a challenge?

You must meet specific requirements to challenge a will. This is so that random people can't contest one when they don't have a valid interest in it. If you were named in the will or in a previous version of it, you could file your claim with the court. Another way to meet the requirement is to be a party who would have a stake in the estate if the person died intestate. The state has a specific list of relationships that meet this qualification, so you should be able to find out quickly if you are on that list.

Is there a valid reason to contest the will?

You need a valid reason to contest the will, but often these are hard to prove. One of the more common claims is that the will doesn't meet the state's requirements. This might be the case if the will was oral when a written one is necessary. The testator's testamentary capacity also comes into the picture because you can contest a will if the person couldn't understand the impacts as it is written.

Another situation is when the person was unduly influenced to create the current will terms. This one is challenging because it requires substantial actions. Typically, verbal threats and abuse don't meet the qualification. An example of undue influence occurs when a person who controls the finances of the testator refuses to pay for life's necessities until the will is written in a specific manner. A contest might also happen if fraud was part of the will creation.

Sometimes, families can resolve these matters through mediation or similar manners. Heading to court is usually a last resort because some families don't want to deal with the wedge that litigation might push between family members. Even if there is a chance that contesting a will can impact relationships, ensuring that the decedent's final wishes are followed is crucial.

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Riach Gese Jacobs, PLLC
7331 196th Street, SW
P.O. Box 1067
Lynnwood, WA 98046

Phone: 425-329-7857
Phone: 425-776-3191
Fax: 425-775-0406
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