Contested probate cases are quite a challenging field in law. If you are involved in a contentious probate dispute as an executor or a beneficiary, you must know all the rules properly.
In this article, we will discuss the details of contested probate cases so that you can prepare yourself for this tough time.
First, let’s know the legal definition of probate and contested probate.
What is Probate?
Probate is the process of proving a person’s Will. Here the Will is reviewed to determine its authenticity and validity. It also refers to the correct distribution process of a person’s assets. Whether the deceased person has a Will, probate works for the general administering of the person’s estate.
If an asset-holder mentions a specific name in the Will, the court will take them as the executor. On the other hand, if the asset-holder, unfortunately, dies before making a Will, the court will appoint one as an administrator.
Either way, after getting responsibility, the administrator pays the liabilities (if any) and distributes the rest of the estate among beneficiaries.
What is Contested Probate?
Contested probate happens when an individual or other entities disagree about the distribution of the deceased’s asset. When there is a disagreement among the involving parties, they can go to the court to share their opinion.
They have the full right to file a complaint and let the judge decide if the distribution of the assets is correct or wrong. The judge will go through every piece of evidence and then make the judgment. After that, the executor will distribute assets to the heirs based on the result.
When Probate Becomes Contested?
Even if there is a clear Will and the deceased’s states exactly what they want, disagreement can still arise. They will oppose it if something doesn’t go according to their wish.
So after the asset-holder die, the usual probate process starts. But as soon as someone makes a complaint, the distribution process is stopped. And the contested probate proceedings begin. Actually, anyone can contest a Will if they want.
The court then hears all the evidence and, according to the law, makes a decision based on the situation. However, it might be quite hard for a regular person to go through all the legal processes. That’s why it’s better to contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
An experienced person will help you to pass all the struggling steps smoothly.
Things That Could Invalidate a Will
Several different factors can affect Will’s validity. Have a look at them below to learn about them.
It’s a common scenario when someone forges a sign and pretends to be someone else. Or try to pretend that they have the authority to modify or create a Will. In this case, the Will become invalid.
Unstable Mental Stats
If a person doesn’t in a good mental state, their Will won’t be counted. On the other hand, documents that are prepared when the respective person is under the influence are not legal too.
In some cases, someone threats a person to make a Will against their wish. If the court finds out about the incidents, the documents will be invalid.
Mistake in the Will Paper
Mistakes can happen while preparing legal documents. You might not need to prepare the whole document again for a simple mistake. Just modifying the problematic part is enough to satisfy the court.
Revoke the Will
A person has the authority to choose to revoke a Will. And when that happens, the Will become invalid. Normally, your lawyer observes the whole situation and decides whether the contested probate is likely to succeed or not. They follow the path that ensures your best interest.
What Happens to an Invalid Will?
So, after a Will is declared to be invalid by the court, it is discarded completely. The documents no longer have the power. And when the document has been thrown out, the court then decides how to distribute the asset.
How to Remove a Caveat on Probate?
If the caveator, the person who has entered a caveat, can decide not to pursue the probate challenge. They can remove their caveat if they want.
According to the law, an executor or beneficiary is considered a party with interest. They have the authority to request the removal of the caveat.
You can directly ask the caveator to remove their caveat or write to the Probate Registry to issue a warning. The Probate Registry then provides the warning to the caveator.
On the other hand, if the caveat has been challenged, it can be removed by consent or court order.
Can a Common-Law Partner Challenge a Probate?
Well, as common-law partners are not legally married couples, they don’t have an automatic claim. So in an unfortunate event where the deceased didn’t mention the spouse’s name or hasn’t left a Will, it’s quite hard for the partner to get the inheritance.
However, the dependent’s relief claim of the surviving spouse may lead to a substantial inheritance.
Can a Child Contest a Will?
A child is considered a financial dependent on their parent’s assets. Therefore, if a child is excluded from a Will, they can contest a Will.
But sometimes, parents leave one or all of their children out of the Will. Most of the time, it happens when a child opposes their parents’ decision or chooses a lifestyle that they disapprove of.
In a case like this, the child may argue that their parents are under the influence when writing the document. So, as a parent, if you want to leave out your children, state the reasons clearly in your Will.
Can a Husband Leave His Wife Out of His Will?
According to the Family Law Act, married spouses are bound to share half of the increase in wealth they experience during their married life. Without any exception, a husband can never leave his wife out of his Will.
Typically, a wife can claim within six months of her husband’s death if the Will doesn’t go in her favour.
That’s all about the contested probate cases. So far, you have seen all the important details about this fact. If you find yourself in such a situation, contact a lawyer as soon as possible. Try to claim your right after you discover your ground.