When you pass away, your will, trusts and other estate documents will help determine what happens next. Your will is important because it describes how you’re passing on your assets to your heirs.
If your heirs are not happy with the distribution, there is a chance that they could challenge your will in court. Since you won’t be alive any longer, there is no opportunity for you to clear the air or correct misunderstandings. Instead, the probate court may decide to hear the complaint in order to determine if your will should be invalidated.
What happens if someone challenges your will in probate court?
If your loved one decides to challenge your will, they’ll contest the contents of the will in probate court. They may contest the will because they were excluded or received less than someone else, for example, and ask the court to reverse that decision.
Any interested parties may contest a will, such as any heirs you named in the current or past wills or those who aren’t named but who could inherit property due to the state’s intestacy laws.
The person who challenges the will has to be able to prove that the will isn’t valid for some legal reason. To do this, they may try to show that you were not mentally competent when the will was drawn up or that you were unduly influenced by another for their personal benefit. They may also argue that there is a newer will to follow or that laws were broken when your will was written.
Avoiding a contested will may not be totally preventable, but you can discuss mitigation strategies as you draft your estate plans. That may help give you some additional peace of mind.