What happens if you have questions about the validity of a loved one’s will? And how can you go about contesting a will submitted to the court? To learn more about will contests in Indiana, contact Barnes Cadwell Law today.
Do You Have Standing to Contest a Will?
In order to contest a will, you must show that you have legal standing to do so. Only “interested” persons have legal standing — this could be a family member, a business partner, legal heir, or other interested party. The court will determine whether or not your challenge to the will is valid and then allow you to initiate a lawsuit on that basis.
What Is the Time Limit to File a Will Contest?
Any interested person may contest the validity of any will in the court having jurisdiction over the probate of the will within three (3) months after the date of the order admitting the will to probate…” Ind. Code 29-1-7-17 Contest of wills; requisites; grounds (Indiana Code (2022 Edition))”.
What Are Grounds for Contesting a Will?
While having standing gives you the right to initiate a will contest, you must also have valid legal grounds for contesting the will in order to move forward with a lawsuit. This means that you have some reason to believe that the will is invalid, not simply that you weren’t happy with your inheritance.
A legally binding will must follow certain procedures in Indiana. If the will was not signed in the presence of witnesses or other procedures were not followed, the court can rule that the will is invalid.
Lack of Testamentary Capacity
This is the same as saying that the testator (the person who drafted the will) was not in sound mind when they drafted the will. For instance, if one of your loved ones had Alzheimer’s and forgot about the existence of their children, that person cannot draft a legal will. But proving lack of testamentary capacity is difficult. You must show that individual who drafted the will didn’t know what their assets were or to whom they should be distributed.
This means that the testator was being coerced or controlled by another person to favor them in the will. Examples could be blackmail, extortion, or some other kind of pressure. Essentially, you claim that the decisions that the testator made were not their own.
You would have to prove that the testator was tricked into signing a document, and they didn’t realize the consequences of doing so.
What Is a Will Contest Lawsuit?
If you have standing and you have established grounds for contesting the will, the case will move into litigation. During that period, the probate process will stop until the matter is settled. Often, will contests can be settled in mediation with both sides coming to some accord. In other cases, a trial will ensue. The executor represents the interests of the contested will while you contend that the will is invalid.
What Happens If I Win the Will Contest?
If you win the will contest lawsuit, the court will rule the will is invalid. If there was a previous will, the court will consider that to be the latest official will. And if there is no will at all, your loved one’s assets will be distributed according to intestate succession.
Learn More About Contesting a Will in Indiana
Will contests are no simple matter. If you have questions about contesting a will, Barnes Caldwell Law can help you determine whether you have the grounds to do so and guide you through the process. Contact us today to learn more about how an Indianapolis probate attorney can help.