The passing of a loved one can be an emotional and stressful event. However, it may become even more difficult if that person’s will is contested. In some cases, contesting a will is a lot like going through a divorce as it could pit family members against each other. Wills are generally contested when one or more heirs believe that the will does not properly reflect the desires of the deceased.
The executor of the estate is required to provide notice that the will has been filed to all beneficiaries. In general, those beneficiaries who live in the same state where the will was filed have four months to contest. Those who live in another state have up to six months to contest, and a judge may grant a 30 day extension if there is reason to do so.
Generally, an individual will contest on grounds that undue influence or lack of mental capacity led to changes in the document or the creation of a new will. If this is proven, the deceased may be declared intestate, which means that he or she is deemed to have no will. An alternate solution is to revert back to an older version of the will and submit that through the probate process.
As part of an estate plan, an individual may wish to have a will drawn up with the help of an attorney. Alternatively, a will can be drawn up by the individual for review by legal counsel to ensure that it meets state laws related to wills and other estate planning documents. This may make it less likely that beneficiaries will contest the will based on accusations of fraud or undue influence.