A probate attorney at Frank & Kraft provides help during the probate process to try to make this process go as smoothly as possible. Our legal team can represent an executor of an estate and help the executor to fulfill his fiduciary duty. We can also provide representation to heirs or beneficiaries who want to make certain that the executor is fulfilling his obligations and protecting an inheritance. With help from an experienced attorney, hopefully the process will go smoothly, the executor will do his job, and heirs or beneficiaries will inherit in a timely manner.
Sometimes, however, things don’t go smoothly. In some circumstances, a last will and testament that the executor has submitted to be probated will end up being contested or challenged. To contest a will is a big deal, but it can be necessary if you don’t believe that a last will and testament should be enforced as an accurate reflection of the wishes of the deceased. Frank & Kraft helps those who wish to contest a will and our attorneys can explain the likelihood of successfully contesting a will at the onset so an informed decision can be reached.
If you are thinking about contesting a will, you need to understand how the process of a will contest works and you need to make certain that you have a legally valid reason for why the will should not be enforced. Frank & Kraft will help you to understand when and how wills are successfully contested. For example, five key reasons why a will could be contested include the following.
The Decedent Didn’t Actually Create the Will
Wills need to be made in accordance with legal formalities, including being witnessed. In some cases, however, a person will make a handwritten or holographic will. If a will was not witnessed and all formal legal formalities were not followed, questions can arise about whether the decedent (the deceased person) actually made the will that is being presented to the court to probate.
The Will Being Presented for Probate Is Not the Most Updated Version
If someone updates a will, the update could invalidate all or part of the prior will. Depending upon the nature and extent of the new will, it can be complicated, in some cases, to determine which will is the latest one and thus the enforceable will. An experienced attorney should be consulted to provide advice on which version of the will is the controlling one.
The Decedent Was not of Sound Mind When the Will Was Created
If a person creates a will when he is not of sound mind, that last will and testament should not be legally enforced. It is going to be up to the person who wishes to contest a will to show that the person who created the will was suffering from some type of mental incapacity at the time of the will’s creation.
The Decedent Acted Under Duress
Every person should have the right to determine, of his or her own free will, what happens to money or property that person is leaving behind. If a person is coerced into creating a last will and testament, that will is not a legally valid one. This can become a big problem in circumstances where caregivers have a lot of power and control over vulnerable people. Those caregivers can sometimes essentially force a person to change his or her will using threats and intimidation. The result of this is that the will won’t be probated if it is contested and it can be proven that it was created under duress.
The Decedent was Coerced By Fraud into Making the Will
When a person creates a will because he is defrauded and is acting based on a material misrepresentation of the facts, the will also should not be considered a valid one that is probated.
Getting Help from A Probate Attorney
A probate attorney at Frank & Kraft can provide insight into when a will can be successfully contested. If you are considering contesting a will, we can carefully review the facts and circumstances to help you determine if you have a viable argument to make. We can assist you in putting together the necessary evidence to contest a will and can help you to go through the formal legal process of making a successful argument. To find out more about the ways in which our legal team can help you, join us for a free seminar. You can also give us a call at 317-684-1100 or contact us online to get personalized one-on-one help with all legal issues related to will creation, probating a will, or contesting a will.
Mr. Kraft assists clients primarily in the areas of estate planning and administration, Medicaid planning, federal and state taxation, real estate and corporate law, bringing the added perspective of an accounting background to his work.