Estates are not always simple to settle and disputes often arise from disagreements over the terms of the will. In these cases, an individual may contest a will or make a claim against the estate. This blog post will explain how this process works and what you should do if you find yourself in such a situation.
Why Dispute an Estate Plan?
There are a variety of reasons why someone might dispute an estate plan. In some cases, the will may be invalid due to a lack of capacity, duress, fraud, undue influence, or improper execution. Those closest to the deceased person may feel that their wishes were not respected or that they were wrongfully excluded from the inheritance.
How to Approach a Dispute?
There are different ways to approach an estate administration dispute. James H. Horton Law Firm, P.C. can provide a brief explanation of some of the common types.
What is a Will Contest?
A will contest is when someone challenges the validity of an entire will or parts of it. The challenge must be based on legal grounds such as lack of capacity, duress, fraud, undue influence, and improper execution. The challenger must provide evidence to prove that one or more of these elements were present during the creation of the will in order for it to be considered valid.
It is important to note that only beneficiaries who are legally entitled to receive assets from the estate can contest the will. Additionally, any beneficiary who was excluded from receiving assets in the original version of the will can also challenge it.
What is an Estate Claim?
An estate claim is when someone files a lawsuit against someone else’s estate for damages or other compensation related to an injury or wrong done by that person before they passed away. This could include claims for unpaid wages, medical bills, property damage, etc.
Since deceased individuals can no longer defend themselves against these claims, their personal representative (the person responsible for administering their estate) must handle them on behalf of the deceased individual’s estate instead. In most cases, any money awarded by court would be paid out by the deceased individual’s assets first before being taken out of other beneficiaries' inheritance shares if necessary.
Can a Dispute Be Avoided?
Estate administration disputes are overwhelming and can put an immense amount of stress on a family. However– it is possible to put protections against this process in place. In a previous blog, we discussed some of the best options for avoiding an estate administration dispute. The following are examples of how this can be done:
- Update estate plan documents regularly and frequently.
- Find an executor that is responsible and will follow instructions.
- Have conversations with family and loved ones about the estate plan.
- Have appropriate witnesses in place and provide valid signatures.
These are just a few steps that one can take to help ensure that an estate plan is valid and enforceable.
Work With Experienced Attorneys
Understanding how to contest a will or make an estate claim can be difficult but knowing what steps you need to take if you find yourself in this situation is important. Furthermore, if you find yourself in a situation where there is a dispute among your loved ones or family members, it can feel overwhelming on where to go next. Regardless of the situation you are in, it is important to seek out experienced legal guidance for assistance. When you are located in the Denton, TX, area– know that James H. Horton Law Firm, P.C. is here.
Contact us now at (940) 310-6122 so that our dedicated Denton estate planning lawyers can assist you.