When you can contest a will

When a loved one passes away, wanting to get through the estate administration process as quickly as possible is usually desired. In the state of Massachusetts, it generally takes several months to do so. If one has questions or concerns about the will, though, it is okay to speak up and slow things down. There are reasons why one might want to contest a will, and those will be the focus of this week's column.

In order to contest a will, one cannot just have the desire to do it; one must have the necessary legal grounds. There are only so many legal grounds to contest a will. Currently, they are:

  • The testator did not understand what he or she was signing
  • The testator failed to sign the will
  • There were no witnesses to the signing
  • The testator was a victim of undue influence
  • The testator did not realize he or she was signing a will

Contesting a will is not an easy thing to do. Proving any of the above issues exist can be quite challenging. The court will require a certain amount of evidence before it will be willing to invalidate all or a portion of a will. If invalidated, the judge will then get to decide how the estate is to be administered.

To contest a will, a proper motion must be made in court. This will halt the estate administration process until the issue can be resolved. Resolution can take months, if not years. While prolonging the closing of the estate may not be what is wanted, sometimes it is the best thing that can be done in order to make sure the testator's true wishes are made known and honored. Those who need assistance with contesting a will in a Massachusetts court can turn to legal counsel for help with the process.

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Attorney Christopher J. Fein

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