There are many reasons why people find themselves left out of a will. Maybe your parents have supported you for a long time and/or consider you financially stable enough so they intend to leave the remainder of their wealth to someone else, like their grandchildren, friends, or charity. On one hand, people are free to leave their money to whomever they choose. But in the legal arena, things are rarely black and white. Wills can be challenged. In this post we’re going to explain on what grounds you can challenge a will.
Here Is What You Should Try First
A Word of Caution: If you are about to contest a will, keep in mind that it can cost you a lot of time and money. Before taking the matter to court, it might be a good idea to give a go at mediation. Mediation is defined as intervention in a dispute in order to resolve it; arbitration. An independent and competent mediator can help you devise a solution with the beneficiaries of the will upon which everyone may be able to agree.
Robbie Shell of The Wall Street Journal explains why you ought to give mediation a go: “One, it is significantly less expensive for families than going to court, an advantage in today’s tough economy; and two, an unprecedented intergenerational transfer of wealth is currently taking place. One report predicts that between 1990 and 2044, $10.4 trillion will be passed on to the baby-boomer generation.”
But what if you do not think mediation will yield satisfactory results?
Prepare For A Difficult Fight
If you believe you have a solid chance of revoking the will, you can contest it by claiming it is invalid. As listed by the UK Probate Solicitors, here are the stipulations that make a will legally valid:
- The person making a valid will must be 18 years old or older.
- A valid will must be made in writing.
- The testator must have full mental capacity and understand the content, meaning and effect of the will.
- The testator must sign the document of his or her own free will and signature must occur without duress.
- The will must be signed by the testator and witnessed by two people (they must not be beneficiaries or they will lose any inheritance). The testator and two witnesses should all be present together at the same time. The deceased may have signed the will previously but must acknowledge the signature prior to the witnesses signing.
- Alterations made after signature are invalid unless the alterations have also been properly executed and witnessed.
Keep A Realistic Outlook
Put matters on a scale and carefully weigh the costs – not just financial ones. “Before you even start, make sure that the fight makes sense from a financial perspective, with the potential gain far outweighing the legal costs. Most importantly, make sure you have a long talk with your lawyer about the chances of getting the will invalidated and other alternatives that may exist. Being left out of a will is terrible, but wasting time, money and emotions fighting a losing battle will be worse.”, writes Andrew Beattie for Investopedia.
Need Legal Advice About Challenging A Will?
It’s a tough issue but if you feel like you’ve been left out of a will then you need to get legal advice. Without solid legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances, you won’t have a legal leg to stand on. Let us put you in touch with a range of qualified lawyers for a free quote today.