You may have found out that you were left out of a loved one's will and might believe that this was either a mistake or someone is committing fraud. This can and does happen, and you will need to prove this is what happened to contest it. It can be difficult to prove that you were originally supposed to inherit any property of your loved one's estate.
If you were left out of your loved one's will, here are some steps to take to contest it should you wish to. Your first step should be to consult with an estate litigation lawyer to help you through the process.
Figure Out The Cost
Once you hire an estate litigation lawyer to help you contest your loved one's will, you will need to think about if it's worth contesting. Contesting a will is a very difficult process and can be time-consuming. It can also be expensive and the estate overall might not be worth taking to court.
Your lawyer can sit down with you to figure out the entire cost of contesting your loved one's will. This will include all investigation services, court costs plus filing fees, and lawyer's fees. If the estate is worth more than what it could cost to contest it, it might be worth taking it to court to get your inheritance.
Gather Evidence To Prove Your Case
The courts don't overrule wills very often. It's extremely difficult to have a will contested, and in fact, there are very few reasons that you can contest a will. Your estate litigation lawyer can go over what your state deems legal reasons for overturning a will, but they are often similar all across the country.
You will have to prove if a loved one was of a diminished mental capacity when they made the will. For example, they may have contracted dementia and were in the later stages of it thereby not being of sound mind when they made their will.
It's also possible that they may have been coerced by a trusted person to make them the sole beneficiary.
If you can prove that your loved one was under duress, coerced, or of diminished mental capacity, you will have a case to contest the will and have it overturned.
Get A Copy Of Every Will Your Loved One Made
It may be possible that your loved one had an older will made up, and then for some reason had it altered. You may have been included in the older will and someone coerced them to take you out and leave the estate to them. Or, they didn't realize they already had an existing will due to an illness and made a new one.
You will need copies of the older will or any notes they have made prior to their illness or influence from someone else to help prove that you were supposed to be included in your loved one's will.
An estate litigation lawyer can help you get a copy of your loved one's older will and help you compare it to the new one.