There can be many reasons why you have to contest a will. A will may be invalid for the following reasons:
- Lack of Capacity, the testator (the person signing the Will) may not have been of sound mind when they executed the Will and they cannot be forced to sign or change a Will.
- Undue Influence or Fraud, in some cases Wills may have been altered in a fraudulent manner. The Testator may have been coerced into revising the Will to the benefit of the person orchestrating the changes.
- Forged Wills, the most egregious of acts occurs when forgery is used to alter or create a Will.
In all of these situations you can initiate probate litigation to challenge the Will and reinstate a prior valid version.
Dying intestate (intestacy) is the legal term for a person who dies without a Will. Our lawyers help clients in this situation all the time. Some questions they commonly ask are:
Who should control the estate?
The children of the deceased, or other family members must appoint an administrator. In many cases this is not as easy as it sounds, as there are often disagreements between siblings.
What is in the estate?
The administrator’s most important job is to identify, gather and document the assets for the estate. The assets are then appraised so the estate can have a value.
Disputes are common in situations involving intestacy, our attorneys have the experience to help protect your interests.
Our lawyers have seen instances where executors are not ethical in administering the estate, in legal terms this is breach of fiduciary duty.
- Liquidating assets, when estate assets are liquidated no one but the beneficiaries in the Will should receive the proceeds. Executors are paid a nominal fee for their time, anything more should be reviewed and any suspicious sale of an asset investigated.
- Long delays in the probate process can be an indicator of mismanagement especially if the executor is also a beneficiary in the Will.
- Estate audits, an in-depth review of an estate can uncover evidence of fraud involving real property or financial assets.
Our probate litigation lawyers can initiate litigation to contest the will and challenge the executor.
Estate assets such as investment portfolios, life insurance, bank accounts and other financial assets can have payable on death designations. When this is the case the assets do not flow through to the beneficiaries named in a Will, they are liquidated based on signed contractual documents.
Can Payable On Death designations be challenged?
Yes they can be challenged in court if there is evidence to suggest that the deceased was coerced into signing the documents and assigning the assets to the designee. And similar to Wills and powers of attorney, if the decedent was not of sound mind when they signed to make designations take effect on their estate assets, this too can be challenged in court. Our attorneys have seen this happen many times.
As a beneficiary in a Will your share of the estate can be greatly reduced by non-probate assets. Our probate litigation lawyers can represent your interests.
If you are named as a beneficiary in an estate that you feel is being mismanaged contact our Probate Litigation Lawyers. The advice is always free, Michael P. Fleming & Associates, P.C., 737-201-0543.