Whenever someone dies, it is quite inevitable that their will gets into the probate court. A will is a legal document with proper instructions on what has to happen to a person’s estate after their demise. Usually the will, also mentions an executor who will handle and manage the estate.
When a testator plans their estate, they always do so, such that their family members get the maximum benefits. There is still a fear that someone or another will contest their will. This means that either a family member or a third party may want to have a larger estate claim. In such cases, the prominent people that suffer the most are the family members of the deceased. Therefore, when executing a probate case, you need to be aware of people who may contest the court’s will.
Here we will look at who are the people that can challenge a will and on what grounds. We will also look at how we can tackle such situations without making it chaotic.
Who Can Challenge A Will In The Probate Court
As an executor, you need to know who the exact people can contest the will. It would be best to know that not everyone in the decedent’s life could contest the will. If you look at the fundamental probate law, any “interested person” can contest the will as long as they have a valid and correct legal reason. We will now look at who all can challenge the will in a probate court.
Beneficiaries: Beneficiaries are the people whose names the testator mentions in the will. The beneficiaries don’t need to be a family member. Since their names are mentioned in the will, they can challenge the will if they think they are not satisfied with the outcome.
Heirs: Heirs are the family members or relatives of the deceased. They have the highest standing to challenge the will in a probate court. The heirs usually contest the dead’s will when the testator has omitted their names from the will.
Creditors: Creditors will be the first people to try and claim a portion of the estate. In most of the cases, it is the creditors that challenge a will in the probate court. As an executor, you need to make sure the creditors’ claims are genuine and legally valid.
Primary Reasons Why A Will Gets Challenged In A Probate Court
Any person cannot just challenge a will just because they feel like doing it. Fortunately, it doesn’t work like that. To contest a will in a probate court, you need to have a valid legal reason. Here are some of the main reasons for which a will gets contested in a probate court.
Invalid Signature Procedure: When it comes to a will, just a signature is not enough. Every state in the USA has different laws and procedures that the testator must follow to sign the document. For example, in Florida, there have to be at least two witnesses in the room when the testator signs the will. Even the witnesses should sign the documents when all of them are present in the same vicinity.
Lack Of Testamentary Capacity: It means that the person creating the will wholly understand the assets that they are placing in the will and the beneficiaries named in the will. If anyone can prove that the testator did not know the asset’s actual value when making the will, it can contest it.
Unduly Influence: As people get older, they tend to lose mental capacity. In such situations, it can so happen that the elderly were made to make the will under a certain influence. The will can be contested on the basis that the testator when creating the will, was influenced by someone else.
What To Do When Someone Challenges The Probate
If you are an estate executor, you will have to do your best to handle situations when someone contests the will. Such conditions are not at all easy to manage all on your own. If you try to do everything all on your own, you will get mixed up with all the case complexity. Eventually, you might lose the case due to a lack of knowledge and experience.
During such times, the best step that you can take is to hire a probate lawyer. They have the experience and expertise to deal with such adverse situations even in the worst conditions. They will definitely make sure that no one has the capacity to contest the process in the court. Even if someone does manage to contest the will, then the lawyers will take care of the situation and fight the case in court.