Things to consider before contesting a will

On Behalf of | Sep 4, 2019 | Estates

When the executor of a deceased person’s Indiana estate contacts beneficiaries to begin distributing property according to the directions in the will, the outcome could be surprising. A disappointed family member may believe that the will’s instructions do not reflect what the loved one said he or she planned to include, and that this indicates undue influence on the part of a caregiver.

Is it a good idea to contest the will’s validity?

There must be grounds for a will contest

According to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, the grounds for contesting a will do include undue influence. Other grounds for a will contest involve the following:

  • Lack of capacity (the testator was not able to understand some aspect of what he or she was signing)
  • Improper execution (the will was not signed or witnessed according to the law)
  • Forgery

However, leaving a larger portion of assets to a caregiver does not automatically indicate that the caregiver somehow unduly influenced the testator to change the will, or that the testator lacked the capacity to understand what was going on.

There may be a no-contest clause

There may be another very important factor for the family member to consider even if he or she believes that there are grounds for a will contest. In Indiana, it is legal for the testator to include a no-contest clause. Per FindLaw, Indiana Probate Code § 29-1-6-2 states that a beneficiary who contests the will and loses the case will forfeit the inheritance the testator left him or her.

If the family member was left out of the will completely, the inclusion of a no-contest clause is not likely to be a deterrent. However, if the family member did receive an inheritance, it may be worth examining closely whether there is enough evidence to warrant litigating the will.