Left Out of a Will
Left Out of a Will
Despite your relationship with a loved one, you are not always guaranteed to be in that individual’s will upon their death. It can be a shocking twist to find out you are not included in a loved one’s will while other people are written in. A will can exclude individuals who believed they would be a part of it. On occasions, those left out of a will were told they would be a part of the document at one point.
Being left out of a will can be humiliating and painful. However, there are some steps you can take to clarify why you were left out of the will. You may even be able to contest the will. To contest the will, you will need to prove the person was coerced, frauded, or did not have the mental capacity to make the correct decision. These steps are time-sensitive, so you will need to act fast following the will’s reading.
Important things to know about contesting a will
You need to know that contesting a will is difficult. It can be an uphill battle to get a piece of the estate that was left in the document. When contesting a will, you need to ensure it makes sense financially. You do not want to contest a will that will cost you more money in legal fees than what the ultimate goal is worth. The potential result needs to outweigh the legal costs you will incur.
Along with making financial sense, contesting the will needs to make emotional sense as well. The process of contesting a will can be long and arduous. It can also be stressful and filled with multiple steps and loopholes.
Regardless of how you feel about the will, you must prove that the deceased was coerced, frauded by another person, or lacked the mental capacity to make sound decisions. You should consult with your lawyer about the validity of contesting the will prior to taking the steps to challenge it.
Receive a copy of the will
After the will is read, you should ask the executor for a copy of it. You should obtain a current copy and any previous copies of the will that may have been altered later on. You will also need a list of the deceased person’s assets.
Executors typically compare copies of the will. They should make note of any changes that are made to the will. An executor’s note could be the first major clue that you were taken out of the will by the deceased before their passing.
If the will enters probate, it is possible to get a copy of the will from the probate court. At this time, you will be informed of how long you have to challenge the will. Not all states are the same when it comes to contesting a will. Therefore, you should enlist a lawyer and go through the steps together.
Weigh the costs of contesting a will
One of the biggest issues you will have from the start is deciding whether the cost of contesting the will is worth it. The amount of money it can take to enlist a lawyer and go to court can add up quickly. You need to weigh the worth of the estate. If the outcome is worth more than the costs you will spend, then it is a good idea to continue challenging the document.
It is more difficult to challenge a will if you are not family. A non-family member not previous mentioned in a will has no grounds to challenge the document. If you previously discussed an inheritance with the deceased, then you need to write down all the information you can remember. You need to estimate the financial value of the inheritance. If an inheritance was implied, then you must give a low and high estimate on what could have been left to you in the will.
If your financial estimates are not enough to cover the consultation costs, then you should drop your challenge of the will. Many fights over estates and challenges of wills only end in massive legal fees. Before hiring a lawyer, consider the financial outlay.
Hire a lawyer if you are left out of a will
You should enlist a good lawyer as you are prepared to challenge a will. Once you enlist a lawyer, you will need to begin paying money to contest the document. Before you get to this point, you should have decided whether or not it is financial worth it to challenge the will.
When meeting with your lawyer, you should show them the will and give your reasons for challenging the document. You must have a valid reason to contest the will. This is important to remember. You cannot just contest the document on a whim. In the end, you want to prove that the person didn’t have the mental capacity to properly write-up and sign his/her will. You can also show that they were pressured by another party to change the document. A will must meet specific state regulations. Therefore, you can attempt to show it was not created legally.
A lawyer will inform you if the challenge is possible to win. In spite of not having grounds to challenge the will, you may still make a claim on the deceased’s estate. For example, if you preformed work for the deceased and were never paid, you can claim costs for the work done. However, the cost of claiming the sum may not be worth the legal costs.
Challenge the will
If your lawyer finds creditable grounds to challenge the will, they will file the appropriate paperwork to contest it. Your goal is to invalidate the current will and enforce a previously made will that lists you as a beneficiary. If the deceased as left you out of multiple versions of the will, you are less likely to have grounds to stand on. The burden of proof lies on you to show the deceased made the will under pressure to leave you out.
Consider mediation to achieve a result
A court battle can be long and costly. Rather than go to court for a long period and spend money in legal costs, consider going to mediation. Estate mediation can offer you a result and pay out while a long court battle will deplete your finances.