Contesting a Will? What is a Will Contest?

Seek Assistance from Washington DC Estate Planning Attorneys

picture of last will and testamentYou have recently lost a loved one, and you are in the midst of dealing with the sorrow. The time has come to distribute their estate according to their will – but you think something may be awry with the document. Maybe money is going to an ex-spouse, or an estranged family member is receiving a suspiciously hefty portion of the estate, leaving very little else for the deceased’s children.

Far from being one-time documents, wills and trusts are living documents that require updates and revisions over the course of a person’s life. Someone’s relationships, possessions and financial status may have changed drastically since the will’s original draft. There are certain circumstances and factors that may help convince the court that the current will is not a true or accurate representation of the deceased’s wishes.

Contesting a will can be a complex legal process and requires an experienced estate lawyer to achieve success. Attorney Michelle Lanchester has helped many clients with how to write a will and she understands the strategies that go into such a document, as well as when things just don’t sound quite right.

Arguments for Contesting a Will

The crux of successfully contesting a will is firmly establishing that the deceased did not write and approve the will as it currently stands. You can also contest a will by proving that the document was not prepared in accordance with the law. A will might be faulty and open to contest in a variety of circumstances:

  • The person making the will was not of “sound mind” or lacked the mental capacity to understand and consent to the document;
  • The will was not formalized in writing (an oral will or “deathbed wish” is not legally enforceable);
  • The will was not prepared correctly;
  • The will was not prepared in accordance with the law;
  • The will was forged;
  • Revocation of the will;
  • The will was written under undue influence.

The last point – undue influence – is a particularly common argument when contesting a will. The person preparing the will or trust may have done so under pressure by a family member, friend or business associate. Our Maryland and Washington DC estate planning lawyer can work with you to see if someone is getting more than their fair share of the estate. A will attorney understands that there are two sides to every story when reading or creating a will.

Contact our Estate Planning Attorney

If you have questions about estate planning or contesting a will, contact Michelle Lanchester today. With years of experience in wills, trusts, guardianships, power of attorney, advance directives and estate law, Michelle Lanchester can help you in the fight to ensure the proper distribution of your loved one’s estate.


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