Not all wills are legally valid. For a will to be a binding legal document, the person making the will must be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind. The will must also be properly signed and witnessed. Even if these requirements are met, a will can be challenged on the grounds that it is the result of fraud, duress or undue influence; in other words, the maker of the will was taken advantage of by a caretaker or other trusted individual and was influenced to create a will that is inconsistent with their wishes.
In order to contest a will, you must: (1) be entitled under law to share in the deceased’s estate in the absence of a will; or (2) be a beneficiary under a prior will that has been revoked. In the majority of cases, you can challenge a will only in the event you would receive a smaller share of the estate if the will was admitted to probate. The period for bringing a will contest is limited; if it has been more than three months from the date when the court admitted the will to probate, then you cannot object to the will.
Besides challenging the validity of a will, other disputes can come up during the probate and estate administration process. Personal representatives and administrators of estates have what is called a fiduciary duty, meaning they have a duty to act in the best interests of the heirs and beneficiaries. If the personal representative or administrator breaches his or her fiduciary duty, then the heirs and beneficiaries may bring a lawsuit to remove them from managing the estate. Other estate litigation matters include mismanagement of the estate’s assets by the personal representative or administrator, taxation issues and creditor claims.
Do not delay: if you believe that your loved one was unfairly influenced to a write a will or that the personal representative or administrator of their estate is acting inappropriately, contact the Law Office of Tyler R. Barrett, P.L.L.C. at (405) 928-4075 or by filling out the form on our Contact Us page.