After a loved one passes away, all you want to do, understandably, is take time to grieve your loss and learn to live in your new normal while trying to cherish the good times you shared. Unfortunately, the decedent’s estate (assets and property) must be taken care of; this often entails the reading of the Last Will and Testament. In normal circumstances, this means that you will know how much each beneficiary will receive as an inheritance. 

Sometimes, though, the reading of a Will reveals peculiar choices made by the decedent. For instance, why would the former caretaker, who knew the decedent for all of eight months, receive more than the children? If something seems off about your loved one’s Will, then you might want to consider contesting the document in court. 

Who Can Contest a Will?

Not just anyone can contest a Will. In Alabama, only “interested parties” have legal standing to file for a Will contest. In this context, an interested party is someone either named in the Will or someone who, in the absence of a Will, would receive part of the decedent’s estate based on Alabama’s laws on inheritance. 

Why Might a Will Be Successfully Contested?

Simply being unhappy is not a sufficient reason to challenge a Will; there are very specific grounds for which someone is able to contest a Will. Some of the reasons include:

  • The decedent did not have mental capacity when drafting the Will. Showing that the deceased was suffering from dementia or other condition that impaired his or her judgment could be a way to show incapacity. 
  • Technical flaws. There are certain requirements that must be met for a Will to be valid in Alabama. For instance, two people who can attest to the mental capacity of the creator must be present when it is signed. 
    • The Will was the result of fraud. Fraud can mean many things, but one example is one or more signatures on the document being forged. 
  • Another party had undue influence when the Will was written. A Will written a certain way after the creator was threatened or bribed can constitute undue influence. 

When Can a Will Be Contested?

This part is very important: generally, adults with mental capacity have only six months from the time the Will was presented in probate court to contest it. In some other rare circumstances, you might have up to one year. However, it is crucial to act quickly in this situation. 

Conclusion

You could be feeling hurt if your loved one did not leave you much of anything in the Will. Usually, this is only a (perfectly legal) setback, but it could sometimes indicate something unsavory and unlawful. To find out whether or not you have a valid reason to contest a loved one’s Will, get in touch with the Law Office of Tanika L. Finney today. You can reach us by phone at 334-203-7521.