Losing a loved one can be one of the most challenging experiences a person can go through. Unfortunately, the grieving process may become even more difficult when disputes arise concerning the validity of the deceased's will. These disputes are known as Will Contests, and they can be emotionally draining, both for the aggrieved parties and the beneficiaries. If you find yourself in a will contest, it's essential to understand the laws governing these cases in Virginia.
What is a Will Contest?
A will contest is a challenge to the validity of a will. The objection typically stems from the alleged incompetency or incapacity, coercion, undue influence, or fraud/misrepresentation of the person who created the will. The law is designed to protect the legal validity of a will, and contesting its validity is only allowed under specific circumstances.
Grounds to Contest a Will:
Several grounds can lead to a will contest in Virginia. Incompetence or lack of capacity, fraud, coercion, or undue influence are the most common grounds to challenge a will. A will may also be challenged if it does not meet the legal formalities required of wills in Virginia. Competence is essential when creating a will, and someone contesting the will may argue that the person who created the will did not have the mental capacity to create the will. Coercion and undue influence may arise when a beneficiary of the will pressures the deceased into making changes to the will or signing a document that goes against their wishes. Fraud/misrepresentation is a type of undue influence and occurs in many of the same circumstances.
Legal Process of Challenging a Will:
Acting quickly is essential if you suspect a will was created, signed, or modified under any of the grounds mentioned above. In Virginia, you typically have one year from the date a will is probated to file a will contest law suit. Specific legal steps are involved in fighting a will contest, including filing a petition in court, securing a court hearing, and presenting evidence to prove your case. The process can be lengthy and costly, with no guarantee of success, but a competent attorney can help you navigate the legal terrain and increase your chances of winning the case.
Seeking Legal Counsel:
If you plan to contest a will or if you have been informed that a will that you offered to probate has been challenged, obtaining legal representation is crucial. Will contests are complicated and emotionally charged and require the expertise of an experienced litigator with a track record of success in successfully overturning fraudulent wills. Your attorney will help you understand the entire legal process, provide guidance on grounds to challenge a will, and help gather and present evidence to support your case.
Harrisonburg Will Contest Lawyer
If you believe you have a will contest claim, it is essential to consult with an experienced attorney who can navigate the legal complexities on your behalf. At Obenshain Law Group, we are dedicated to helping families seek the compensation they deserve while providing compassionate support. Contact us today at (540) 318-7360 to get started.