If you are dealing with contesting a will, you may be feeling overwhelmed and pressured. With the help of an attorney, you can make this process much smoother.
Contesting a Will | Probate Process
Because the probate process can be complex, many people are very concerned. Many people ask, “Well, how do we avoid probate?” or “How come we have to probate a will?” When you execute a will at a lawyer’s office, a document entitled a will is created, and certain qualifications must be met in order to ensure that it’s a good will. Normally, the document must be signed by the person who’s making it. That person must be competent and not suffering from any undue influence. The signature generally takes place in front of two witnesses who also must sign. A will ceremony takes place, during which the person executing the will makes certain declarations in front of these witnesses, including that the document is his will, he’s reviewed it, and that he would like the witnesses to sign it. A whole process needs to take place.
Contesting a Will | Executor
When those steps have been completed, the document is said to be purporting to be a will, but it’s not a will yet. A will is designated a valid will, and results in the official appointment of the executor – the person in charge – only after the person dies. At that time, the will goes in front of the surrogate court judge who decides that the document is a valid will and appoints the executor in charge.
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Contesting a will is very difficult. Remember, two witnesses were present at the signing. Those two witnesses said, “Hey. That person signed the will in front of me, and he knew what he was doing. He understood what he was doing, and he seemed competent to me when I signed the will.” If you’re going to object to the will, you’ve got to overcome the testimony of those folks. While you might be able to do it in certain cases, success will require a significant amount of evidence, testimony – and maybe medical testimony – to prove that that will isn’t valid.
Overturning a Will
Very few attorney-drawn wills, particularly in Western New York, are overturned. It does happen occasionally, but very seldom. That doesn’t mean that cases alleging a problem with the will cannot be made. In certain situations, will contests do go on and wills are settled. Estates are settled. People say, “All right. I’ll give you this,” or “I’ll give you that and we’ll split it this way.” We don’t have to go in front of a judge. That does happen but will contests are not for the faint of heart. You need a lot of verifiable facts and a lot of evidence – and they’re expensive.
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If you need legal representation, please call our Buffalo estate planning lawyers today. We are here to help.