When Decisions Matter.


When to Hire a Civil Litigation Attorney to Contest a Will

If your loved one had a will, the disposition of his or her estate should be spelled out fairly clearly. However, there are some instances when you might be taken aback by the deceased’s will with unexpected heirs or terms.

In these cases, a civil litigation attorney can help you determine if you want to contest a will, or in other words, dispute the will.

There are a few reasons why you might want to challenge the deceased’s will. It could be that you didn’t receive what you thought you would, or perhaps you were on the will when you last saw it, but now appear to be cut out completely. The deceased could have revised the will at any time, even just moments before death.

You might have the grounds to contest a will in your favor if:

  1. The deceased was incapacitated at the time of creating or revising the will. Simply put, was the individual mentally aware that he was creating or revising the will at the time it was done? Even if he understood that he was changing his will, did he understand the implications of his decisions, and how his heirs would be affected? Changes in the decedent’s behavior sometimes give clues that he did not have the capacity to make appropriate decisions about the disposition of his estate. Perhaps he became angrier than usual. Perhaps he became passive. A civil litigation attorney will check medical records to determine if the individual might have suffered a disease such as Alzheimer’s that inhibited his ability to think clearly, or if his demeanor dramatically changed.
  2. There was undue influence at the time of creating or revising the will. Was there an individual who became close to the deceased before he passed away that might have overpowered his independent thinking? We sometimes see this in instances where the loved one remarried a few years before death, and the new spouse might have influenced a revised will. It could even be a close relationship with a caretaker.
  3. The will is unclear. If there is ambiguity — where the written word could take on more than one meaning — you might have reason to contest the will in your favor.

If you think you have reason to contest a will, a civil litigation attorney will be able to help you navigate the next steps.

The attorney will conduct an investigation. He or she may want to check for medical records and other documentation that describes the decedent’s physical and mental health conditions. The attorney may interview people who knew the deceased person to uncover changes in behavior, and changes in relationships with family members and friends. The purpose of the investigation will be to determine if grounds exist to challenge the will and determine a strategy that will provide you with the best outcome.

A civil litigation attorney can help you to contest a will. If you’re in need of legal help, contact Stock and Leader’s Litigation team today.

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