You probably had numerous conversations with a loved one before his or her death. You may even have discussed his or her wishes for what happens to the estate afterward. Then, after you lost that person, you saw the will, and something just didn't add up.
The contents of the will may not reflect the conversations you had. You may wonder whether someone influenced your loved one to make changes. Perhaps those changes took place during a time when your loved one may not have been able to make decisions alone. In any event, you may want to know whether you can contest the will.
How do you contest a will?
Before you can contest a will, consider the following factors:
- In order to file a will contest, you must first have standing. This means that you must be a legal heir under Tennessee's intestate laws or a beneficiary of the will.
- However, that's not enough. You also need one of the following legal grounds:
- Your loved one lacked the mental capacity to execute the will.
- The property legalities weren't followed.
- Someone put undue influence on your loved one.
- Fraud played a part in the execution of the will.
- You also need to file your contest within the time frame established by law.
Proving that the will is invalid can be a time-consuming, emotional and expensive process. You may need assistance in gathering the appropriate evidence and presenting your case to the court.
Common signs that something may be wrong
Many will contests have the following factors in common:
- You provide evidence regarding your loved one's lack of capacity to sign the will. It may be possible that he or she didn't even understand the contents of the document.
- A do-it-yourself will may not contain all of the legalities required by state law in order for the court to consider a will valid.
- Someone managed to keep your loved one away from family and friends. Under such isolation, that person may have convinced the decedent to change his or her will.
These are just some of the factors that led to successful will contests for others.
You may need support
As mentioned, these types of claims require a substantial amount of proof. Attempting to go it alone may not achieve the results you seek. It may be worth your while to discuss the matter with an attorney who can help you determine the best course of action.