Adoption 101: The Legal Fundamentals

Adoption 101: The Legal Fundamentals

Were You Left Out Of The Will? What To Do

Brayden Miles

It's only natural to feel sad when a loved one passes away. The very normal feelings of mourning, however, might quickly turn to disappointment and puzzlement when the will is read. Read on and find out what you can do when the reading of the will leaves you without your expected inheritance.

First, Talk to a Lawyer

When you disagree with the contents of a will, speak first to a probate lawyer. Use their expertise to devise your next steps. You can make a big mistake if you contest a will without legal support. The lawyer can read the will and do a bit of investigating to learn more. In most cases, the probate court must first declare the will to be valid. If there are issues with the contents, the signature, or the will's validity, the probate court might not be able to approve it. If that is the case, those who disagree with it can step forward. If the will has already been declared legal, you need to understand the legal challenge ahead of you in contesting the will.

Be sure to understand how much money in legal fees and court costs to expect. One final consideration about contesting a will is needed. In some instances, the author of the will might have put in place provisions that prevent those who challenge it from inheriting a penny. These are all good things to know before taking action.

Good Reasons For Contesting a Will

Unfortunately, the way the reading of a will makes you feel is not enough to challenge it in court. You cannot simply disagree with some aspect of the will and mount a challenge — you have to have the entire will declared invalid. The basis for this is that if one or more provisions in the will are invalid, the will itself is invalid. That said, you must speak up and take action if you have reason the believe that the will of your loved one has mistakes or is invalid in some way. Take a look at these common problems with wills that could make them invalid:

  1. The contents of the will were unduly influenced. The will should be the work of the deceased and only the deceased. If their caregiver, relative, friend, or others intervened and convinced them to create or change a will by using force, lies, tricks, or other manipulations, it could be ruled invalid.
  2. The author of the will was incapacitated at the time of its writing. When you execute a will, it is supposed to be with a sound mind. Anything else can be challenged. Regardless of the cause, wills should never be created or changed by anyone with medical or mental issues. Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol is also considered incapacitation.
  3. The will was a product of fraudulent actions. Fraud usually involves wills that are found to have not been written (or signed) by the deceased.
  4. Miscellaneous reasons include that the will is illegal in that state. For example, hand-written (holographic) wills are not legal in all states.

When something seems off with your loved one's will, speak to a probate lawyer. Be sure not to use the same probate lawyer that is handling the will, however. To find out more, speak to a probate lawyer as soon as you can.


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About Me
Adoption 101: The Legal Fundamentals

If you've decided that you want to adopt a child, the first thing you should do is reach out to a family law attorney. While it may not seem logical to get an attorney involved from the start, it's important that you protect yourself legally from the beginning. After making the decision to adopt, I have been through the process several times. I created this site to help other adoptive parents understand what they can expect from the entire process, including the legal support you're likely to need. I hope this information helps you feel more confident in this major life decision.