By its very definition, a will ought to reflect what the decedent wanted to happen to their assets after their passing. A simple and carefully drafted will often achieves just that, and in those instances, the process can be quite straightforward. However, complications are frequent, as there are many issues that can make whatever the will prescribes questionable in the eyes of the law, especially if the will had not recently been updated, or was drafted without appropriate legal guidance.
Potential issues can be as banal as an unclear signature, or as trying and difficult as a family dispute. Whatever the issue is, probate court is required to intervene with the allocation of funds to ensure that the will is executed fairly, and in accordance with the law. Without proper counsel, probate can take months or even years to resolve, causing the decedent’s family and loved ones additional anguish and stress during an already sensitive time. With so many critical moments to be spent in the courtroom, proper legal help is vital to the successful resolution of your case.
What Constitutes a Valid and Enforceable Will?
For a will to be valid, the person who signs has to be of age (in some states starting at 16 years old) and “of sound mind.” In most states, wills have to be written, as opposed to orally delivered, and don’t have many requirements beyond that. However, with such limited guidelines, a will’s validity can easily be challenged in court and you and your family may spend years in probate before you can begin benefitting from your inheritance.
On What Grounds Could a Will be Contested?
Much of the time, a will is challenged on the basis of the testator not being “of sound mind.” Since that category can be perceived as rather broad, many interpretations have been used to undermine the validity of a will in court. For example, even profound emotion at the time of signing might be considered something that could interfere with “soundness of mind.” Similarly, mental and physical illness have been used as grounds for rendering a will invalid and not enforceable.
Wills can also be contested based on issues that involve the document itself, and may have nothing to do with the original testator. For example, if there are reasons to believe that the will could be entirely fraudulent, probate would have to investigate and determine whether those suspicions carry any weight. Yet another context for a will to end up in probate is if the executor’s integrity is called into question. If the beneficiaries suspect foul play on the part of the person or organization distributing their inherited wealth, they may seek protection from probate court.
Why Choose North City Law?
A will is meant to preserve the integrity and intentions of your loved one who passed away. Protect their legacy and make sure you choose right when it comes to your legal representation. Whether you are struggling through an emotionally charged family dispute, or need help streamlining your probate process, our attorneys are here to assist you. Call North City Law at 206-413-7288 today for a FREE initial consultation!