When you are grieving the loss of a family member, the last thing you want to deal with is a problem regarding their estate plan. Even when estate administration goes smoothly, it can be emotionally difficult for the surviving loved ones. Unfortunately, sometimes concerns over a will’s validity do arise. Family members may get a rather unpleasant surprise when they get around to reading their decedent’s will in some cases. Sometimes the terms of the will are much different from what you expected to find. It could be that the will leaves everything to an individual or organization the family is not familiar with. Or, it could be that the will appears to have been signed well after the decedent became incapacitated. Whatever tips you off that your family member’s will is not valid, there are ways an attorney can help you challenge the will and potentially have it set aside.
What Are Some Signs that My Relative’s Will is Not Valid?
There are a number of factors that might suggest to those who knew the testator that the will in question is not what the testator would have made of his own accord. A few signs that should lead you to investigate further include:
Incapacity timing – If your relative had an illness like Alzheimer’s or dementia, their will may not be valid unless it was signed before they lost the mental capacity to do so. You may be able to challenge the will on grounds that your relative was not competent to make a will.
Surprise beneficiary – While surprise bequests and gifts to more casual acquaintances can be perfectly legitimate, it is suspicious if your relative left a large portion of the estate to someone unexpected. It is doubly suspicious if the surprise beneficiary had been spending a lot of time around. You could be able to bring a challenge alleging undue influence.
Odd omission – If an expected beneficiary, like an adult child, is inexplicably left out of the will, it could signal one of two things. The first is that your loved one was mentally incapacitated enough to forget that individual, invalidating the will. The second is that someone who stood to benefit from the omission coerced or pressured your family member.
What Should I Do if I Become Suspicious?
Contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Bringing a formal legal challenge may be the only way to prevent a will your loved one did not want to make from being carried out. Your attorney can help you gather evidence.
Contact a DuPage County Disputed Estate Attorney
A. Traub & Associates is committed to helping families make sure that their loved ones’ wishes are carried out. Our experienced Wheaton disputed estate lawyers can help guide you through the process of challenging a will. Call 630-426-0196 for a free consultation.