Contesting probate doesn’t happen often, but some situations call for it. Probate is already a drawn-out legal situation; contesting it can be even more difficult and time-consuming. However, success can make a significant difference to your long-term interests when an inheritance hangs in the balance. With the help of an experienced probate attorney, contesting probate can be done successfully.
If you need to contest probate, Loew Law Group can help. Contact Loew Law Group today to speak with an experienced probate attorney.
What is probate?
Probate court is the legal body responsible for enacting the terms of a will. Not every will needs to go through probate. Ending up in probate court is a likely scenario in situations in which:
- No will was prepared
- The will is not legally binding
- Beneficiaries are not clearly identified
- Assets are not clearly allocated
- The deceased was the sole owner of property left in the will
- Disputes over the will
Probate has associated court costs and legal fees, and the whole process can take from several months to a few years.
In addition, probate court will liquidate the assets of the deceased, if necessary, and pay all debts before the remainder of the estate is released to the beneficiaries.
Reasons to Contest Probate
If you are the beneficiary or executor of a will and you believe there are issues with the will, you have the option of contesting probate. Usually, there’s a six-month deadline to file for contestation, but action should be taken as soon as possible to give an attorney time to build a case and collect evidence.
A primary reason to contest probate is if it appears that the probate process will leave a beneficiary with significantly less of an inheritance than they were intended to receive.
Probate can be contested on grounds related to the will. Many of the reasons to contest probate are similar to the reasons why a will went to probate in the first place. Common grounds for contesting probate include:
- No will was left behind
- Will is not legally binding
- Assets and beneficiaries are vague
- Mental incompetence
- Issues with signatures, witnesses, or dates
- Executor is unfit or has a conflict of interest
- Will inaccurately represents the deceased’s intentions
The ability to contest probate is a legal safeguard intended to ensure that an inheritance is distributed according to the desires of the deceased.
Fraud, coercion, and other forms of elderly abuse are real threats that can wreak havoc on the standard of living and finances of the deceased’s heirs. These are valid reasons for contesting probate. A probate attorney can work with you to prove the actual desires of the deceased.
Downsides to Contesting Probate
If you’re considering contesting probate, it’s important to note the disadvantages. The desire to contest probate is often rooted in emotion rather than reason.
When a deceased family member does not leave you with the portion of the inheritance you were expecting, it can be deeply disappointing. It’s common for a beneficiary who has been left with a small inheritance to want to contest the will. However, contesting probate doesn’t succeed simply because the outcome is unfair or unexpected.
The attempt to contest probate must rest firmly on one of the valid legal grounds for contestation, and there must be sufficient evidence for a probate attorney to build a compelling case for your argument.
Even when grounds do exist, there’s never a guarantee that contesting probate will produce the outcome you want. Contesting probate can also create animosity with other family members.
If you move forward with the choice to contest probate, be aware that you may incur expenses and cause the probate process to last much longer without gaining the outcome you hope for.
The best way to contest probate efficiently and effectively is to consult with an experienced probate attorney. An attorney will give you a clear picture of your chances of success, and will likely decline your case if you don’t have grounds that can hold up in court.
Court Response to Contesting Probate
If you initiate a probate contestation on legitimate grounds, the probate court will begin a probate hearing. This pauses the process while the hearing unfolds—generally over multiple hearings, which can take a long time. During that time, legal fees, taxes, and other financial concerns may continue to accrue, costing all parties money.
Ultimately, the probate court will hold a hearing on the contestation, and the probate process will move forward based on the results of that hearing.
Loew Law Group Can Help With Contesting Probate
Loew Law Group is a law firm dedicated solely to estate planning concerns, including wills, trusts, and disputes. Whether you need to contest probate or you need defense when probate is contested by another, our experienced probate attorney at Loew Law Group has the specialized knowledge you need to fight for the outcome you want.
Contact Loew Law Group today to arrange a consultation and discuss how to navigate the process of contesting probate.