When can a Will be contested?

Most challenges to Wills are by potential heirs or beneficiaries who got little or nothing. Will contests must be filed in Probate court within a certain number of days after receiving notice of the death, or petition to admit the Will to probate, or issuance of Letters Testamentary to a personal representative. Examples of reasons to challenge a Will are:

  • there is a later Will which, if valid, would replace the earlier Will;
  • the Will was made at a time the decedent was not mentally competent to make a Will;
  • the Will was the result of fraud, mistake or “undue influence”;
  • the Will was not properly “executed” (signed by the decedent);
  • the so-called Will is actually a forgery;
  • for some other reason (such as a pre-existing contract) the Will is invalid.

If there is a Will contest, the probate court may invalidate all of the Will or only the challenged portion. If the entire Will is found invalid, the proceeds will probably be distributed according to the state laws of intestacy, unless there is a prior revoked Will that is revived and admitted to probate.

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