No one wants family drama to overshadow the passing of a loved one. Unfortunately, situations could arise after a family member’s demise that cause surviving loved ones to question whether everything pertaining to probate is legitimate. For example, you may have recently found out that a near stranger is set to obtain a considerable portion of your loved one’s estate, or the information in the will may otherwise differ greatly from what you and your loved one had discussed.
If you have concerns that someone may have coerced your loved one into creating a new will or, perhaps, created a fraudulent will for his or her own benefit, you undoubtedly want to make sure that the situation is handled appropriately. Often, this can mean having to move forward with probate litigation as you contest the will.
Do you have the ability to challenge the document?
It is important to note that a person needs legal standing to challenge or contest a will. You may have such standing if your loved one named you as a beneficiary in the current will or even in a previous version of the will, especially if the newer will excludes you or significantly reduces your inheritance. If the will does not mention you, you could have standing if Minnesota intestacy laws would consider you an heir, meaning that you would be in line to inherit property if no will existed.
What grounds do you have for your concerns?
Though you may have standing, you also need legal grounds to contest the will. If you base your concerns on nothing more than not liking a family member who received more assets than you, the court may not consider your case. However, if your concerns center around one of the following details, you may have grounds for a case:
- You believe that someone coerced, tricked or unduly influenced your loved one into signing a new will.
- The will did not follow state laws that would deem it valid, such as not having the appropriate number of witness signatures or not having your loved one’s signature.
- You believe that someone created a fraudulent document and replaced the valid will.
- The will is missing important information.
- The will presented to the court is not the most current version of the document.
Any of these issues could present serious problems during probate, and you may want to take advantage of your legal right to challenge the will and ensure that your loved one’s true wishes come to light.