Losing a loved one can be an emotionally traumatic event. It becomes an even greater challenge when the estate planning documents seem hastily written or you fear that they may be fraudulent. Fortunately, the legal system has been designed to allow heirs to challenge the validity of a will under certain circumstances.
It is not uncommon for close friends or family heirs to feel slighted after the passing of a loved one. It is difficult to voice these concerns, however, without seeming greedy or disrespectful of the recently passed. It is important to remember that there is an entire legal process that can be followed to dispute or contest a will. An attorney experienced in guiding clients through estate litigation can answer your questions in greater detail.
One of the most common estate litigation disputes centers on the validity of a will. This is most often called a will contest. There are numerous reasons why the validity of a will might come under fire, including:
- Allegations that the will was drafted under duress: This means that one or more of the surviving loved ones is worried that another individual pressured – possibly through the threat of violence – certain language to be included in the will.
- Allegations of fraud or forgery: If a surviving loved one fears that the will is not authentic, estate litigation might clear up the issue.
- Additional documents are found: If a second will is found or notes around the estate are uncovered it might cause concern over which document to follow. For instance, an individual might leave a valuable painting to one heir in the will, but a note attached to the back of the actual painting might specify that the painting belongs to a different heir.
There are many other reasons to challenge a will. If you have lost a loved one and are concerned about the authenticity or validity of their estate planning documents, it is best to discuss the matter with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible.