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The first 3 steps in a will contest

You probably never thought you'd need to contest your mother's will. However, you recently discovered that someone coerced her into sign a new will only days before her death. Now, you're trying to learn about your options. You might even be asking: "Is possible to invalidate the second will and revert to the original?"

It certainly is possible to invalidate a will in some circumstances. However, in order to be successful, you'll need to carry out the following first steps:

  • Find out where you stand: A will contest won't be possible in every circumstance. In most cases, you'll need to be an heir named in a previous or current will, or you'll need to have standing as an heir under state intestacy laws.
  • Figure out the timing: Your ability to file a will contest shall be subject to time constraints. Be sure to understand when the deadline is so you can file your contest appropriately.
  • Identify your grounds: You need to have a valid reason to contest the will. Was it because the testator didn't sign the will properly? Was it because the testator didn't have the mental capacity to sign? Was it because the testator was influenced or coerced? Or, was the will a fraud?

The above three steps are vital to any will contest, but they're not the end-all-be-all. You may need to file your will contest in court and litigate the matter all the way to a final hearing. This could take time, but if the proceedings are successful, it could be a way for you to preserve -- not only your inheritance -- but also your loved one's true wishes.

Source: Mary C. Lagrone, "Will Contests," accessed Dec. 15, 2017

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