An estate dispute can be an immensely stressful experience for all involved. This is compounded by the fact that such disputes can be complex in nature, and many individuals that do not practice law are unsure of the steps that will need to occur if an estate dispute arises. Luckily, experts well versed in estate litigation such as a Westlake Village estate lawyer can help with the litigation process, drastically increasing the likelihood of a peaceful resolution. Here Catanese & Wells discusses what can be done if there is a dispute about a will.
What Would Lead to Someone Contesting a Will?
There is a wide variety of factors that could lead to a will being contested. One of the important things to remember about will contests is that there must be a legal reason to do so. Emotions can run high after the death of a loved one, and bad blood may be a driving factor in disputes. Some common reasons that people have for disputing a will include that they believe they are receiving less than they are entitled, they believe another person is getting more than they are entitled to, or they consider the will legally invalid due to factors such as the signee of will was not of sound mind at the time. Other potential reasons for a dispute are that it is believed a will was created under duress or coercion, fraud, forgery, and technical flaws that mean the document does not adhere to the legal formalities that are required in a particular jurisdiction.
How to Contest a Will
You may have a limited amount of time to contest a will, and the allotted time begins after receiving notice of probate. This means that, to file a claim, it needs to be done within the statute of limitations. A Westlake Village estate lawyer can assist with filing a claim and can save a lot of time and effort during the process. The process of contesting a will can require many of the same steps as civil trial proceedings including sitting for a deposition, submitting evidence for discovery, and providing testimony on the stand.
Contesting a will can delay probate and some beneficiaries may decide to with a settlement offer rather than undergoing the process. While the settlement is often smaller than what would be received from a successful will contest, the time and money that it could save can make it an attractive offer for the individuals involved.
What if You are an Executor Defending Against a Will Contest?
Providing the facts of a will is the most important duty for an executor of a will that is defending against a contest. The first step that should be taken is to contact the attorney responsible for drafting the will. The attorney can be involved in defending the will but cannot be the sole attorney representing the Estate because they are a fact witness as well. An executor can retain this office for the defense if the attorney has other members of their firm that can serve as defense counsel, however.
After retaining counsel for defending the will, and the executor has filed an answer to the verified complaint, a Westlake Village estate lawyer can help with the process of locating witnesses that can attest to the will’s validity. From there, an attorney can assist with obtaining documents that are pertinent to the assets of the estate.