The death of a parent is a difficult time, and this tremendous loss can deepen rifts and cause problems among siblings. If your sibling decides to contest your parent’s will, it is important to understand when and how a will can be overturned.

Contesting a Will.

Just because your sibling decides to contest the will does not mean the courts are going to overturn it. Some siblings threaten to contest their parent’s will when they feel slighted or hurt. However, contesting a will is expensive and time-consuming.

What is a Will Contest?

Under probate law, wills can only be contested by spouses, children, or people who are mentioned in the will or a previous will. When one of these people notifies the court that they believe there is a problem with the will, a will contest begins. A last will and testament can only be contested during the probate process when there is a valid legal question about the document or process under which it was created.

How to Contest a Will?

A will or a codicil to a will (an amendment made to a will after it has been signed) can only be contested for very specific legal reasons. Some of these reasons include how the will is signed and witnessed, mental capacity of the parent at the time, possible will fraud, or being unduly influenced.

What Happens After a Will is Contested?

If the court agrees the will is invalid, the entire will can be thrown out. If there is an earlier will in existence, that will could be put into place instead. If there is no other will, assets could be distributed by the court according to state intestacy laws, which are the rules applied to divide an estate. Part of the will or codicil could be upheld, leaving the court to interpret how the rest of the estate should be distributed.

The Bottom Line.

When it comes down to the reality of the situation, the court looks at all the facts and makes decisions based on what is provable. Most wills are upheld, and most sibling disagreements after a parent’s death cool down with time.


Thank you Brette Sember, J.D. and for this content!

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