When you create your estate planning documents, you’re doing so to make things easier for your loved ones. You’re streamlining your affairs and ensuring that your wishes have the best chance of being followed by the courts and the people you appoint to handle your estate administration. But this does not always mean that your estate is fully protected from the filing of a will contest.
A will contest alleges that some aspect of the will is invalid, rendering all of the statements inside it invalid as well. A contest to a will can only be made by what is known as an interested party. Although this may be defined slightly differently in each state, it refers to the concept of having legal standing. The ability to contest a will is typically restricted to those named as beneficiaries in a prior will, who are now receiving a reduced inheritance or no inheritance at all, beneficiaries who are named in the current will, and anyone else who may be outlined under the state’s intestacy laws, typically a child, spouse or other lineal descendant.
Beneficiaries are ineligible to contest a will until they have reached the age of maturity, which is 18 in most states. However, a guardian or a parent can also initiate legal action on a younger beneficiary’s behalf, especially when timeliness is of the essence. In these advanced kinds of cases, it is important to think about steps you can take to minimize the possibility of someone contesting your will. Consulting with a knowledgeable estate planning lawyer and documenting your wishes clearly puts you in the best position to protect your interests moving forward. Contact an estate planning lawyer in Pasadena today to learn more.