Can someone contest probate?

On Behalf of | Jan 30, 2023 | PROBATE & ESTATE ADMINISTRATION - Estate Administration

A will allows someone to designate beneficiaries of their estate in preparation for their passing. When they pass away, their heirs won’t benefit from the testator’s estate immediately. Instead, the heirs will have to wait for probate to end before they see any of their inheritance.

Probate is the process that allows the court to validate the will. Additionally, probate allows the executor of the estate to perform their duties, such as collecting copies of the deceased’s death certificate, paying estate taxes, securing the assets and contacting beneficiaries. The executor has four years to file for probate and if that’s not done, then, as per the laws of intensity, the state will govern the estate distribution. 

Probate can take several months and upwards of a year if the testator didn’t have a will. The probate process can lengthen if someone contests probate. People can’t just contest probate on any grounds, however. The following are valid reasons someone might contest probate:

Mental capacity

A testator must have the significant mental capacity to write and sign their will. Essentially, the testator must have an understanding of what they’re doing, also called being of “sound mind.” As such, during the will’s creation, the testator must know the purposes of the document, who’ll inherit from their estate and what assets they own. If it’s discovered that the testator couldn’t do the above, then there may be a probate contest.

Undue influence 

Another reason someone would contest probate is if they believe the testator was influenced to write or sign a will. Undue influence can happen when an elder marries someone significantly younger and their younger spouse convinces them to exclude family and friends from the will for their own benefit.

If there’s enough reason for someone to contest probate, then every party should be aware of their legal rights.