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The probate process can often involve lengthy, complicated legal procedures. For example, both tangible and intangible personal property, like stocks and collectibles, are probated in the state where you reside.

But property is probated in the state in which it is located, regardless of where you actually live – this means a personal representative could have two different sets of probate regulations to deal with as probate guidelines can differ quite significantly from state to state.

The bottom line is the whole probate process, which refers to the method by which an estate is administered and processed through the legal system after a person dies, can quickly become overwhelming to even the most prepared personal representative – making an already difficult situation even worse.

That’s where Commonwealth Elder Law, PLLC comes in. We are Experienced attorneys with the probate process and can help you get a fast and just resolution.

We’ve heard some real probate horror stories where the probate process took several years to complete and all the while expenses were just racking up one after another.

People often don’t realize how many expenses there can be when it comes to the probate process, especially if a probate house is involved – there could be expenses like accounting fees, property management fees, estate taxes and property sales costs. All of these expenses can quickly add up.

That’s why it can quickly become beneficial to have an experienced team like Commonwealth Elder Law, PLLC on your side. We can save you money in fees and help you get your probate settled fast.

Click here to schedule a probate consultation.

Are You Experiencing or Making a “Will Contest”?

Will contests are one of the most common occurrences during a probate process. If you are making a will contest or defending against one, we can help.

Our attorneys:

  • Focus on will contest proceedings and have extensive experience with probate issues
  • Make sure you and your claims get the respect and acknowledgement they deserve

How Do You Contest a Will?

The first step to take when contesting a will is to establish a legal basis for the challenge.

There are a variety of ways that this legal basis can be established, including:

  • When the will was drafted or signed, the will maker was not mentally competent
  • There was pressure placed on the will maker to agree to the terms of the will
  • There is a second will that was created by the will maker that trumps the current will
  • There was no proper witnessing or signing of the will
  • There was fraud or some misleading information used to induce the will maker to sign the will

There are a variety of ways that this legal basis can be established, including:

  • When the will was drafted or signed, the will maker was not mentally competent
  • There was pressure placed on the will maker to agree to the terms of the will
  • There is a second will that was created by the will maker that trumps the current will
  • There was no proper witnessing or signing of the will
  • There was fraud or some misleading information used to induce the will maker to sign the will

What Other Factors Can Determine a Will Contest?

Courts will always attempt to interpret a will according to what they believe the wishes of the deceased were. Even so, there are still state laws and public policy that can determine how the document is interpreted.

When there is a will contest, one of the most important factors in the eyes of the court is any evidence of the deceased’s intentions.

Any witnesses to the signing of the will become very important, but there may be other pieces of evidence which the court uses to make its decision. The attorney who drafted the will also becomes extremely important for the court to determine what the intentions of the deceased were.

Anything in writing, including testimonies and even letters, will be very important in determining why someone may have been excluded from a will. Such written testimony is often used carefully though. When exclusions are conditional it is possible for an attorney to argue that the conditions for the exclusion were never met.

How Can You Avoid a Will Contest?

The best way to avoid a will contest is for the will maker to follow good planning and drafting procedures when creating the will. If you are creating a will and want to avoid future will contests, schedule a consultation by clicking here.

Here are some additional tips: those with a large amount of assets can avoid will contests by avoiding such measures as disinheriting family members and other divisive actions that will cause family conflicts and invite challenges.

Using other legal formats such as trusts can help to pass assets to others and avoid having to include those assets in a will. Here are some additional guidelines that can be used to help avoid will contests:

  • Avoid making statements that can lead to animosity amongst family members. This includes disinheriting family members.
  • Whenever a will is made, family members should be aware of the existence of the will. When the will becomes necessary, a contest out of panic can be avoided if friends and family members already know that a will exists.

Including no contest clauses in the will can avoid challenges.

If you feel that a will was drafted improperly or that the will maker was incompetent when a will was drafted … or if you are going through the probate process and facing a will contest, you should click here to schedule a consultation.

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Our firm offers comprehensive elder law services, including estate planning and probate. To schedule an appointment or to learn more about our firm, call us at 859-823-2300, or send us an email.

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