Wills are used to determine how property will be distributed after the testator’s death. When the process runs smoothly, assets such as real estate, heirlooms, investments, and money pass to beneficiaries.
Sometimes, people who are either named or unnamed in the will may feel the will is invalid, questionable, or unfair.When you contest a will, you are essentially stating that you do not agree with the property distribution. You must have legal standing to start legal action.
In Pennsylvania, those who can contest a will include:
- Beneficiaries who are named in the most recent will.
- Beneficiaries who are not named in the most recent will but can produce a copy of a prior will where they were named.
- Individuals who would be in line to inherit the deceased person’s property if there was no will. This would start with the closest relatives, such as a spouse, child, or parent.
What Must Be Proven When Contesting a Will?
The following will need to be proven when contesting a will:
- The will is not the most up-to-date version.
- The will is invalid because of missing information.
- The will is a forgery.
- The testator did not understand what they were signing.
- The testator was coerced by someone who used undue influence to force them to sign the will.
Providing evidence can be challenging. This is why it is critical to have an experienced lawyer.
Risks of Contesting a Will
There are some risks of contesting a will. Some testators choose to put a no-contest clause in their will. A no-contest clause says that if you contest the will and lose, you receive nothing because you are essentially forgoing any inheritance rights you had. Another risk of contesting a will is prolonged litigation. The rewards may be worth the risks depending on your circumstances. Before deciding if you should contest a will, you should contact an attorney.
West Chester Estate Lawyers at Eckell Sparks Can Help Determine if You Have Grounds to Contest a Will
Are you considering contesting a will? Get legal advice from our knowledgeable West Chester estate lawyers at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. Call us at 610-565-3701 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation. Located in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania, we serve clients in Montgomery County, Delaware County, and Chester County.