Dealing with the death of a loved one can be a difficult thing for a lot of people the world over. That's because our grief oftentimes dominates our every thought, making it difficult for even the most rational of persons to think clearly. While this can sometimes lead to disputes, especially when it comes to a loved one's estate, many times cooler heads prevail and a resolution is found without the use of lawyers or litigation.
It's in situations where disputes are particularly contentious or a loved one raises a legal question that the help of an attorney may be necessary. One area of estate planning where disputes are incredibly common is in probate; and more often than not, these disputes concern the deceased person's will.
So what are some legal issues that could lead to these litigious disputes and why might a loved one contest a will in probate?
Because every family's situation is different, there are a number of reasons why a family member might contest their loved one's will. One reason is that they believe their loved one was unduly influenced into signing the will. They might go so far as to accuse another family member of putting pressure on the loved one, causing them to sign a legal document they did not necessarily agree with.
Another reason you may contest a family member's will is if you suspect fraud. There have been numerous cases over the last few decades in which an elderly person agreed to sign over their possessions to someone else under the false belief that they were signing another legal document.
If your loved one suffered from dementia or Alzheimer's disease, you may have concerns about whether or not they had the mental capacity necessary to make decisions about their estate and finances. Proving that they lacked the mental capacity can be difficult though and typically requires a lawyer's knowledge and experience.
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why a loved one might try to contest a will in probate. Just know though that whatever the reason -- be it something as simple as feeling hurt that you were left out of the will to more serious accusations of fraud -- it's a good idea to talk to a lawyer familiar with probate law so that you know you're doing everything the right way.