Contesting a Will - Probate Attorneys Los Angeles | Burns Law

Contesting a Will

Importance of Contacting Our Trust and Estate Attorneys Los Angeles

When a person writes a will naming beneficiaries to their estate, they do so with the assumption this will negate any questions regarding the inheritance of money or property. However, that is not always what happens. In many situations, a will is contested by those who feel as if they were wronged. Whether they were left out of the will altogether or believe they did not receive that to which they were entitled, they may choose to contest the will in probate court. A long, difficult, expensive, and often unsuccessful process, contesting a will is something that should be given careful consideration before moving forward. If you are considering contesting a will, work with probate lawyers Los Angeles residents trust at Burns Law.

Who is Allowed to Contest a Will?

If you simply do not like the way a will was written, you will not have legal grounds to contest it in court. To properly contest a will, you must have standing to do so. By this, it means you will only possess such standing if you are already named in the will as a beneficiary, were named in a previous will of the deceased, or would have been eligible to inherit property had a will not existed. To determine if you do indeed have legal standing for contesting a will, turn to LA estate litigation attorneys from Burns Law.

Is the Will Illegal?

Once you have spoken with trust litigation lawyers who Los Angeles relies on from Burns Law and found you do indeed have legal standing to contest the will, your next step will be to show some or all aspects of the will may be illegal as it is written. However, even if you are a spouse or child of the deceased and were left out of the will, you'll be unable to do anything about the will and what you perceive to be an unfair distribution of assets if the will is ruled to be written in the proper manner. Since proving parts of a will are illegal is very difficult, rely on experienced trust and estate attorneys who will handle your case with sensitivity and a personalized approach. 

Reasons to Contest a Will

If you have decided to contest a will, it will be for one of several reasons. The most common reasons include your belief that the deceased was incompetent when writing the will and did so under duress or undue influence by another person. In other instances, you may believe certain laws were not followed when writing the will, such as it may have failed to have been signed by two witnesses. Also, should you believe a more recent version of the will exists or that the will is incomplete due to lacking the deceased person's signature, you may have a valid case. 

How to Contest a Will

If you plan to contest a will, it is best that you not procrastinate. Since laws of individual states vary, virtually all states do have a statute of limitations that starts from the time you receive notice of probate. If you allow the statute of limitations to expire prior to contesting the will, you will likely have no viable legal options left to pursue. 

Why You Need an Attorney

If you try to contest a will on your own, you will go nowhere fast. Rather than waste valuable time and money, families should always hire professional Los Angeles estate litigation help from Burns Law. Since you will likely have to sit through a deposition, submit evidence backing up your claims, and possibly even testify in court, your attorney can provide guidance throughout the process, increasing the chances your contest will be successful.

Negotiating a Settlement

Since the majority of cases involving contesting a will are unsuccessful, you may have a better chance of getting what you feel is owed you by working with trust litigation lawyers in Los Angeles clients know have a track record of success in negotiating settlements in these situations, such as lawyers from Burns Law. While the amount of your settlement may be smaller than what you would have won with a successful challenge of the will, your attorney will save you months or even years of drawn-out litigation, making it a very smart decision on your part.

Rewards and Consequences

If you happen to successfully contest a will in court, you will immediately be given whatever property or money is owed to you. However, if your challenge fails, you may find yourself disinherited from the estate, leaving you with nothing. To ensure you make the right decision as to whether or not to move forward with your case, consult with trust and estate attorneys to give you guidance.

How to Keep Your Will from being Contested

If you are preparing to write a will and are concerned about the possibility of it being contested following your death, there are certain steps you can take to keep this from happening. To begin with, you can add a no-contest clause. Though this may not stop challenges from occurring, it does spell out that anyone doing so runs the risk of being disinherited, making it unlikely anyone will take such a chance. In addition, you can also have it notarized or make your assets payable upon death.

Since having a will contested is one of the most complex aspects of estate law, rely only on experienced attorneys to guide you each step of the way. To do so, schedule a consultation with a family law attorney in Los Angeles at Burns Law.

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