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Deciding to contest a will in court needs professional help

When a loved one dies and you expect to be included in the inheritance, it can be quite a blow to discover that you are not in the will. It may come as a shock and you may not know what steps to take because you are grieving the loss already. Contesting a will is not something that happens every day, but can be pursued with the right professional involved.

Legal grounds must be established in order to challenge a will in court. If the person who died was under the influence of someone, they may have felt unduly compelled to change the will. Also, if that person was fooled into signing a document that was the will but was purported to be a different legal document, you may have grounds to challenge the will. If the will was improperly executed according to the New York statutes and laws, it could possibly be overturned.

It may be costly to contest or challenge a will and you need to think carefully about your motivations. Are you willing to possibly lose? Are you willing to put your own money into it with no guarantee of a positive outcome? A cost-benefit ratio can be done and will help you see if this is a monetary award you are looking for or emotional justice. Discussing this with an experienced professional may be a good idea because they can help you decide which of the two responses best fits your state of mind.

Remember that contesting the will may cause a rift in relationships within your family that may become permanent. Are you willing to speak to this person or persons ahead of time and perhaps settle this with collaboration? That may require professional assistance too.

If you are writing a will, you may want to contact an experienced legal professional who can assist you. Having the personal attention of someone who will help you work through issues before the will is in place may help your heirs better accept your final wishes.

Source: AARP, "Where there's a will..." Nancy Mann Jackson, Oct. 08, 2014

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