We’ve all read news articles and seen television episodes about people who prey on the elderly for their money. Let me tell you, it is real and it actually happens. In fact, there is actually an entire state agency dedicated to protecting adults from financial exploitation. While it usually isn’t as dramatic as on television, the impact on your family can be devastating.
What happens when you believe a loved one is being exploited, and their will unexpectedly changes? Regardless of whether the state is involved and investigating exploitation, there are steps that you should consider to protect your interest and set things right.
A Challenge Must Be Filed Within Six Months by an Interested Party
In order to challenge a will you must file a contest within six months of a court order that admits the will to probate. You must serve this challenge upon every person and their representative that is listed in any petition to admit the will to probate. But not everyone off the street can challenge any will. To file a challenge, you must have standing, which in these cases means you can show a direct, financial, and existing interest in the contested estate. To get your foot in the door, you must also demonstrate that the admission of the will interferes with your interest in the estate.
What Must be Demonstrated
There are several grounds that can be proven to challenge a will. These may include fraud, if the document is a forgery, the will was previously revoked, or ignorance of what was actually in the will. The most common grounds pled, however, are lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence. Undue influence basically occurs when someone has prevented the testator (the person with the will) from acting freely and but for that person’s actions, the testator would not have executed the will. A lack of testamentary capacity means that the testator lacked the mental wherewithal to understand what they were signing when the will was executed. It can be a challenging, uphill battle to prove any of these grounds, but a probate attorney can help you weigh your options.
Contact the Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas today if you believe that a loved one’s will is invalid. This is something that we take very seriously and if possible, we want to help you set things right. For more than two decades, I have helped clients in the areas of probate law, estate planning, family law, and divorce. Call us at 847-392-5893 or visit our website to set up a consultation.