The probate court is a special division managing the estates of deceased persons. In most cases it approves an executor and checks they are following the wishes of the departed.
From time to time somebody disagrees with what the will says, or how the executor interprets it. If you have a problem along these lines then you should find these four tips for contesting a will at a probate court enlightening.
Tip # 1: It’s simple really, provided you follow due process.
Any interested party can conceivably contest a will if they don’t agree with the terms, or doubt it is genuine. However, they would in all likelihood need to potentially benefit for the court to take them seriously.
Hence they are likely to be nominated beneficiaries, business partners, or relatives according to the traditional laws of succession.
However, minors can’t usually enter the contest because they are not legally competent. That said, a guardian or the executor may act of their behalf.
Tip # 2: Common grounds for contesting a will
The court will consider the underlying basis of the claim first. The commonest examples include:
# a: The will is technically flawed, or the executor has acted improperly
# b: The person whose will it is was under undue pressure to sign
# c: The person who made the will was not mentally competent at the time
# d: The will is either false, or it is a forgery and therefore it is invalid
# e: The will does not meet one or other statutory or legal requirement
Tip # 3: How to contest a will in a probate court
Determine your grounds to proceed
You will need technically correct legal grounds to proceed. First, check the rules in the jurisdiction applying to it. Next, find out whether the applicable probate law provides for your reason (or is silent). Finally, are you still within the time period you may object?
File your petition in principle
It’s important to make a start while the window of opportunity is still open, or before the beneficiaries have spent all the money. Your petition must be 100% technically correct. At the very least, ask a solicitor to review your document.
Tip # 4: Gather the evidence you require
If the court accepts your petition it will set a date to hear the evidence. This allows you a limited period to find your proof and make sure it is valid. The actual evidence you need depends on the nature of your objection. This example may help you focus:
Let’s imagine, for example your late parent left their carer a large amount of money in their will. If you suspect malpractice, then you would have to prove they coerced the decision, or this was part of a pattern of behavior. Check their cards and accounts for suspicious trends.
However, you may still need witness evidence to corroborate your claim. In this example speak to the neighbors and the local shops. If someone saw the carer treating your late parent badly you could be onto something. Contesting a will is not for the light-hearted. Consider legal advice if there is significant value involved.
Tip # 5: Be there on the day
You don’t have to be a solicitor to present a case to a probate court. However, if you don’t turn up without giving notice they may cancel your case. If you can’t make it on the day, ask a solicitor to outline your argument and obtain an extension on your behalf.