Minnesota estates and those elsewhere do not always close as smoothly as most people would hope. In some cases, surviving family members may have reason to suspect that something has gone amiss during the probate process or with the will itself. If so, it is possible for probate litigation to result.
You may have concerns that the will presented to the court to open probate proceedings for a loved one’s remaining estate may not be valid. Perhaps you believe that someone unduly influenced your loved one into changing his or her will even though he or she did not have the mental capacity to do so at the time. Maybe you think that someone presented an outdated version of the will to the court even though a more recent one exists. If so, taking the matter to court may be wise.
Can you do it?
Even if you believe that a problem exists, it is important that you determine whether you, personally, have standing to take the matter to the probate court. The court will not hear claims from just anyone when it comes to estate litigation and challenging a will. As a result, you will need to ensure that you have the legal ability to address the matter yourself. You may have standing if you fall into any of the following categories:
- The deceased named you as a beneficiary in a prior version of the will.
- You are an heir to the deceased and would have stood to inherit assets from his or her estate if no will existed.
- The deceased named you as a beneficiary in a newer version of the will.
In a broad sense, you could have standing to contest the will if you have something to lose, which most heirs or beneficiaries do.
If you believe that you do have legal standing to challenge a will, you will also need to provide support of your claim to the court. This support could be evidence that someone coerced your loved one into changing his or her will, for example. Perhaps you have a copy of the newer version of the will, if that applies to your case.
It is important to keep in mind that probate litigation is not something to take lightly, and you will need to put in the time and effort to address your case if you hope to achieve a favorable outcome. Fortunately, you do not have to tackle this issue alone.