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Probate litigation: contesting a will

Often, probate litigation arises because someone contests the will that has been presented. They might do so because they are not favorably treated in the will, but that's not always the reason people contest a will. Sometimes, a close family member simply feels that the will is not representative of what they believe their loved one's wishes to be.

A will can't be successfully contested simply because someone has a bad feeling about it or feels it's not in line with what the deceased said about his or her wishes. Some other factors usually have to come into play, including claims that someone had undue influence over the deceased. This means that someone took advantage of the deceased by leveraging his or her inability to make decisions or by pressuring them in other manners to put certain information in their will.

A will can be contested on a number of legal grounds, including the fact that some beneficiaries aren't provided with appropriate information about the estate or one beneficiary ends up with all the benefits. This is especially true if the laws of the state where the will is being probated require certain disbursements to spouses and children; if a will leaves everything to one child and nothing to a spouse and other children, a successful contest is likely.

A third common reason for probate litigation is that someone who was put in a position of responsibility under the will or estate plan isn't doing his or her duty. For example, if someone was made executor or administrator of certain elements and they are not handling those elements in keeping with the instructions in the estate, another party can petition the court to have them removed.

No matter what side of probate litigation you're on, it helps to have a professional at your side. A lawyer can help you protect your rights and interests while holding up the spirit of your loved one's wishes.

Source: News Maxx, "What Is Probate Litigation?," accessed Dec. 09, 2016

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