On August 31, 2016

How (& When) to Contest a Will

How (& When) to Contest a Will

While the passing of a loved one can be painful and challenging to deal with, it may be more difficult to bear when you believe that an invalid or outdated will is being used to settle your loved one’s affairs.

In these and other situations, contesting the will can be integral to ensuring your loved one’s final wishes are carried out – and that his or her legacy is protected in the right way.

Providing deeper insight regarding will contests, the following provides some helpful answers about how and when to dispute the validity of a will.

Whenever you are ready to receive more answers specific to you and your circumstances, simply contact a Denver estate planning attorney at JR Phillips & Associates, PC. Our lawyers are ready to provide you with the information you need to make the best decisions for you and your family as you move forward with any aspect of estate planning, will administration and/or probate in Colorado.

Important Answers about Contesting Wills

Q – What are the legal grounds for contesting a will?

A – Some of the most common grounds for contesting wills include:

  • Improper execution – When wills have not been executed according to the standards set forth by Colorado law, they won’t be legitimate. In general, proper execution (in Colorado) means that a will has been signed by the willmaker (i.e., testator) in the presence of at least two witnesses (who are ‘disinterested’ parties).
  • Mental incapacity – If the testator was not ‘of sound mind’ when devising and/or executing the will, again, the will can be invalid. Mental incapacity can result from health impairments (like dementia, for instance) or from other factors (such as drug use).
  • Fraud or undue influence – If the testator was tricked into signing the will (i.e., subjected to fraud) or (s)he was coerced or threatened into signing the will, again, the will may be declared invalid.

Will contests can also be raised when there is reason to believe that a more current version of the will exists.

Q – Who can raise a will contest?

A – Any “interested party” can contest a will once a probate case has been opened. Interested parties can include (but may not be limited to):

  • People with certain relationships to the decedent, such as children, siblings and spouses
  • People named as beneficiaries to the will or estate
  • Creditors of the estate
  • Others who have property rights to (or claims against) the estate.

Q – Are there any downsides or possibly disadvantages to contesting a will?

A – There can be. For example, if a will contains a ‘no contest’ clause, you may run the risk of being disinherited from the will if you choose to move forward with this challenge (and your contest is unsuccessful).

Another potential downside is that contesting a will can be a lengthy and expensive process (that has no guarantees of success).

So, the bottom line here is that, if you are considering contesting a will, it’s best to consult a lawyer first to make sure you understand the possible implications of raising this challenge. That can help you make an informed and appropriate decision moving forward.

Q – What is the best way to initiate a will contest?

A – Challenging a will is best done with the help, insight and guidance of an experienced lawyer. In other words, as noted in the answer above, it’s in your best interests to consult an attorney before you make any moves to challenge a will because an attorney can point out:

  • What steps need to be taken as you proceed
  • What potential obstacles, challenges or costs you may face moving forward
  • What you can do to position your contest for the best possible outcome.

Get More Answers Now: Contact Estate Planning Attorney at JR Phillips & Associates, PC

When you are ready to develop, update or administer an estate plan, you can turn to the estate planning attorney at JR Phillips & Associates, PC. We provide a thoughtful, comprehensive approach to our clients’ estate planning needs using a variety of traditional and innovative approaches to develop the best possible solutions.

Schedule an initial consultation with one of our lawyers today to discuss your estate planning options. To set up this meeting, call us at (303) 741-2400 or email us using the contact form at the top of this page.

From our offices in Denver, we serve clients throughout the southwest and southeast Metro Area, including (but not limited to) people in Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Castle Rock, Parker, Aurora, Greenwood Village and Englewood.

Categories: Estate Administration, Inheritances, Probate, Probate Litigation, Trustees, Executors & Fiduciaries, Will Contests