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Challenging a will - difficult but not impossible

You have heard stories from your friends and seen them in the news. A loved one passes away, and when it comes time to read the will, the family finds out that the decedent left all assets to a caretaker or a financial advisor, or even to just one heir. While challenging a will is tough, it is not impossible.

Almost all wills complete the probate process without any problems. This is because the court usually views a will as the final directive of the decedent. However, any individual or entity that might have an interest in the will can contest it. For example, if your parent passed away and did not include you or siblings in the will, you each have the right to challenge it. If you find yourself in a similar position, a probate attorney in the Santa Rosa County area can help you. Read further to see some of the grounds that you can use to challenge a will.

Capacity to create

To create a will, an individual must be at least 18 years or older and be of sound mind. This means that if your loved one suffered from dementia, Alzheimer's or some other mental incapacity, as the time a will was created or changed, the court might pass a judgment that it is invalid.

For a will to be valid, the person that created it must understand the value and scope of the property that is included. He or she must also understand who the named beneficiaries are, how the will functions and how the will divides the property.

Fraud and manipulation

If you feel that someone might have manipulated your loved one or forged the document, you can challenge the will. The court might throw out the will if there is evidence that someone exerted "undue influence" over the decedent.

Outdated wills

Usually, when a person makes changes to an existing will or creates an entirely new one, the old one should be destroyed. If an executor is working with an older will and new, updated version emerges, the court may choose to follow the directives of the most current document.

If you find yourself in a position where you think you may have to contest a will, you should understand the grounds required to present a formal challenge. The first thing you should do is speak with a probate attorney so that you know what to expect.

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