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What to know about contesting a will

A will contest seeks to invalidate some or all of a deceased individual’s will. North Carolina law may limit who has standing to contest a will or how long you have to do so. Furthermore, you must have a legally valid reason as to why the document should be declared invalid.

Do you have standing to pursue a legal challenge?

To contest a will, you must generally be able to show that you would be directly impacted by the outcome of your legal challenge. In most cases, individuals who were beneficiaries in a previous will are allowed to contest the document. Those who would stand to inherit property under state law if a will were nullified may also challenge a deceased person’s will. Entities that are named in a will or who have a fiduciary relationship with an estate may also have sufficient standing to contest it.

The grounds for contesting a will

There are four reasons why a will may be wholly or partially invalidated by a judge. For example, this may happen if the document wasn’t properly signed or witnessed by a sufficient number of people. A will might also be challenged on the grounds that the testator was mentally incapable of creating such a document. Finally, evidence of undue influence or fraud may be enough to successfully contest a final will and testament.

What to consider before pursuing legal action

Generally speaking, you must file a legal challenge within several weeks of an individual’s death. If you do decide to contest a friend or family member’s will, it is important to note that doing so could be expensive and take months to resolve. It may also be an emotionally draining experience for yourself and those close to you.

Consulting with an estate planning attorney may minimize the possibility that your will is challenged in court. An attorney may help to ensure that the document is signed and witnessed properly and that it is created while you are of sound mind.