Inheritance Disputes

Unfortunately, many people find themselves involved in ugly inheritance disputes when their loved one dies. What someone thought was included in a Will ends up not being that way. Learn what methods are available to challenge a will, and important facts that can make a difference.

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Prospective Client: My Father recently passed away, and he always told us growing up that he would take care of us. After my parents divorced, my Dad got remarried and he made it very clear that she was going to take care of her own kids and that he was going to take care of us and not to worry about it. Now you can imagine our shock and dismay and surprise now that his wife is saying that he left nothing for us and everything is left for her, and we’re wondering if we have any recourse.

Burdette: You do. It’s a difficult situation that people sometimes find themselves in. We can’t know exactly what’s happened when he wrote the will until we investigate further, but there are legal bases to contest a Will. It’s a Will contest action that’s based on two things. One, did he have legal capacity, mental capacity, when he created that will? Did he know approximately how much money he had? Did he know who the objects of his bounty were? Did he have an understanding of what he was doing? We don’t know health-wise what was going with your dad at the time he wrote it.

Another way to challenge a Will is from what’s called undue influence. Was he in such a weakened state that she could have prevailed on him and did so in such a way to get him to do what she wanted to do as opposed to what he wanted to do? It’s difficult to prove, but in some cases the judges and juries find that someone was unduly influenced. Wills can also be contested on things like fraud or forgery, but undue influence and lack of capacity are the two primary bases that would make sense to look into in your situation.