Will Contest Lawyer
When you are planning your estate, the best way to ensure that your assets are distributed and your family protected in accordance with your wishes is to execute a proper will. However, if there are any potential problems with a will, or if there are family members or other potential heirs who have a problem with a will, the dispute can turn into a prolonged legal battle. If you find yourself in a battle over a will, or if you believe you are being treated unfairly in the administration of an estate, contact a knowledgeable Washington will contest lawyer.
Since 1992, Vancouver will contest attorney John Lutgens has been guiding individuals and families in the trust and probate process, and he will bring that experience to bear in carrying out the administration of your loved one’s will in probate and in protecting your rights as beneficiary to your loved one’s estate.
Contesting a Will
If a will is admitted to probate, or if a will is rejected for admission to probate, then any interested party can file a petition in court to contest either the admission or the rejection of the will. Filing a petition begins a court proceeding called a will contest. Under Washington law, in order to contest a will, the interested party must file a petition with the court within four months following the probate or rejection. A probate or rejection is deemed final if no one files a petition within four months.
Reasons for Contesting a Will
The reasons for contesting a will range from simply being a disgruntled heir to having legitimate concerns regarding the validity and administration of a will in probate. The distribution of estate assets can be a trying time in the best of circumstances, and where there is reason to suspect that a will or specific provision is not valid, familial tensions can be heightened. Sometimes a contest arises simply because someone who was expected to be included in a will was left out, or some particularly valuable piece of property is at stake. The disinherited party may believe some error has been committed even when there is no real mistake.
In order to successfully contest a will in Washington state, the interested party must have a very good reason. Moreover, will and probate issues can be extremely complex. A dedicated and compassionate trust and estates attorney can help see you through any probate-related legal battle and properly effectuate the wishes of your loved one as can best be determined.
Some common areas of dispute involving wills include:
- Wills that were allegedly changed to benefit one family member or other person
- Heirs who have been disinherited
- Accusations of fraud or undue influence on a decedent
- Validity of a will due to testamentary capacity and whether a decedent was of “sound mind”
- Unclear revocation or replacement of a will
- Administrators, executors, trustees, or personal representatives accused of negligence, fraud, or another misdeed in the execution of their duties
- Missing wills and intestate estates involving no wills
- Issues regarding “holographic” wills (which are not accepted under Washington law)
Should the will be successfully challenged in whole or in part, Washington law regarding intestate succession will take over. Your trust & estates attorney can help you understand how property will be distributed in the event that there is no valid will.