Will Contest Attorneys
The importance of having a will cannot be overemphasized. Regardless of the value of your assets, you have the right to determine how and by whom those assets are managed and distributed upon your death. Even more importantly, if you have surviving minor children, a will is critical to express your choices as to who is to provide for their personal and financial care.
As important as having a will may be, however, there are often disputes or challenges that arise after a person dies even when he or she leaves behind a will. Once the will is probated or made public, the exact details of the will may cause tension, disagreement, or even shock to the family and affected parties.
These reactions may lead to will contests, trust contests, estate administration disputes, or other types of estate litigation among heirs, beneficiaries, trustees, executors, and administrators. Common grounds for such disputes include the following:
- Whether the will maker lacked the mental capacity at the time he or she drafted or signed the will;
- Whether the will maker was pressured or unduly influenced by someone to agree to those terms;
- Whether the will maker has another will or trust which supersedes or trumps this one;
- Whether the will maker was mistaken or induced by fraud to sign;
- Whether a surviving spouse is receiving all that he or she is entitled to under Virginia law.
- Whether the will was properly executed according to Virginia law;
- Whether the will is being properly understood or interpreted;
- Whether the executor or administrator is properly fulfilling their duties and administering the estate; and
- Whether the trustee is properly administering a trust.
A number of factual scenarios may give rise to a will contest, such as where a new will was recently executed by the persistence of a caregiver or trusted friend, or multiple versions of a will are produced. Other times, a relative believes that the will’s disbursement and terms are improper and do not conform to the true wishes of the decedent.
Along these lines, Virginia law prohibits a decedent from completely excluding their spouse from taking a portion of the estate. Virginia law provides that within 6 months from the date of probate of a will, a surviving spouse may make a claim to receive their portion of the estate, called an elective share, as guaranteed by statute.
If you believe you have been wrongfully deprived of your inheritance, or a portion of it, you must act quickly to preserve your rights. Additionally, if you have reason to believe the decedent was incompetent or unduly influenced to sign a will, you should contact an experienced Virginia will contest attorney. At MartinWren, P.C., our Charlottesville will contest attorneys are extremely knowledgeable about Virginia’s legal requirements for valid wills and estate planning, and we couple that with our extensive litigation experience.