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Will Contests FAQ

Details About Contesting a Will in Virginia

picture of last will and testament

To contest a will in Virginia you need to follow these three steps:

  • Confirm that you are an "interested person" by legal definition
  • Determine whether or not you have grounds to contest the will
  • Submit a bill explaining your interest and reason for challenging the will (Virginia Code section 64-1.88)

When you need help contesting a will or sorting out other disputes regarding estates, wills or trusts, call the Obenshain Law Group. We have served a wide variety of clients in contesting wills, defending will contests and ensuring loved one’s property is divided appropriately and fairly after death. If you are involved in a will contest or have questions about the validity of a will, let us help.

Call (540) 318-7360 today to speak to a will contests lawyer and schedule your free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions About Will Contests

On what basis can I contest a will?

You may contest someone’s will for any of the following reasons:

  • The will failed to comply with the statutory requirements for it to be valid, often an issue where wills are handwritten (in whole or in part), unsigned, not witnessed or not notarized
  • Breach of fiduciary duty, for example where a power of attorney does something in their self-interest instead of in the interest of the person they are supposed to be serving
  • Duress (threat of violence, abuse, or other unethical, coercive action)
  • Fraud that affected the details of the will
  • Forgery
  • Misrepresentation
  • Someone used undue influence to ensure that the terms of the will benefitted them
  • The person who made the will can be proven to have been mentally ill, incapacitated, or otherwise lacked the capacity to make a will.

Is my loved one’s will legitimate?

Typically, in order to be valid, your deceased family member’s will must be dated and signed by the testator (the deceased) and by 2 or more witnesses who were present and signed at the same time as the testator.

How about handwritten wills, can they be valid?

In Virginia, holographic (or hand-written) wills can also considered legitimate and enforceable, but only if they are written completely and signed by the testator (the deceased). If you are concerned about the validity of your loved one’s will, call the Obenshain Law Group today for help.

Can children born after the will was made still claim a portion of the deceased’s estate?

Yes. Sometimes, children born after a will was written and signed are unintentionally disinherited by a parent or legal guardian. In such cases, if the court determines that the deceased did not necessarily intend to leave their child out, that child can contest their parent’s will and potentially claim part of their estate.

What is the time limit to contest a will?

The time limit for many will contests is one year from the date a will is probated (filed in the clerk of court’s office), however, there are circumstances that may shorten that time limit. This filing period may also be extended for certain minors and individuals who are incapacitated.

A lawyer will also need time to conduct an investigation and to meet with you, so it is important for you to seek assistance and talk to an attorney as early as possible.

How can I afford to challenge a will?

We will carefully evaluate your case and if we can handle your case we will discuss handling it on a contingency fee basis where we receive a legal fee only if we are successful in securing a verdict or settlement in your favor.

I am Executor of a will that has been challenged; how can I afford to defend the suit?

We will carefully evaluate your case and if we can handle your case we will discuss handling it on an hourly basis, which you may be able to pay as an administration expense – out of the assets of the estate. We are also able to discuss alternative fee arrangements including a contingency fee we receive a legal fee only if we are successful in defending a will contest or negotiate a favorable settlement on your behalf.

If you have questions about contesting or defending your loved one’s last will and testament, we can help. Schedule your free, confidential consultation with a Virginia will contests attorney today.