Legal Reasons to Challenge a Will

Circumstances change. Life and lives change. The only thing constant is death, and that is why individuals prepare a will. Even if we all have a clear idea of how we want our futures to go and plan for it, we can’t guarantee anything. If you already have a will, it’s a good start. You might believe you’ve written out a will, once and for all. But a will should always be revised, modified, or updated because of the changes we encounter as we go along. 

There might come a time when you want to change your will for a variety of reasons. This article will share with you key legal reasons why many people wind up changing their original will. 

 

Marriage

Finding a spouse is always a good reason to change your will. Most of the time, spouses are protected, yet adding them to your will gives them extra protection. 

Married couples could opt for a joint will, though such wills are less used these days. In a joint will, the surviving spouse inherits upon death. However, a joint will isn’t always advised because you can’t change it after the death of a spouse. 

You don’t know how long you will live after the loss of a spouse, and if you need to make a change in the will, you won’t be allowed. With legal help, you can find other options to protect your spouse and your children. There are several types of wills that an attorney can make you aware of. Depending on several factors, you can choose the one that suits you best. 

Divorce

nfortunately, divorce is a prime reason to adopt a new will. Depending on the state you live in, the state might enforce your old will if it was not changed at the time of your legal divorce, while another might view that will as invalid if a divorce has taken place.

Most likely, the last thing you want is for a former spouse to inherit from you after a divorce. This will have a serious effect on your estate if your will doesn’t specify what should happen and how property and belongings should be distributed after your passing. It is always in your best interest to modify your will after a divorce.

Common-Law Marriage

Do you have the right to inherit if you’ve been living with someone but not legally married? In all likelihood, no, you don’t. Most states do not have laws protecting common law marriage, but by the same token, they will recognize a marriage that has taken place in a state that does recognize it. 

Couples in common law marriage might have heard that if they’ve been living together for seven years or more, this gives them legal rights. Again, the answer is no. You have to prove that the community at large saw you as a married couple, and this raises the burden of proof to a very high level. Estate planning should be done by couples in a common-law marriage and leave what they want to their partner. 

Contesting a Will

 

Just because you don’t like the terms of a will left behind doesn’t mean you have the right to contest it. There have to be legal reasons to contest a will, and there are several grounds for doing so; specifically, there are four grounds which are:

  1. Wills that do not follow state laws governing legal formalities.
  2. Testator lacking testamentary capacity, meaning the testator must understand the legal implications of signing a will.
  3. Undue influence is when the signer is influenced or manipulated to sign the will.
  4. Fraud is when the testator is made to believe they are signing something else, like a trust fund, for instance, when in reality it is a will.

These grounds are not all easy to prove and you would undeniably need a lawyer to handle it for you. Also, any fallout with others in the will might lead you to challenge a will, or they contest it. 

 

Stepchildren

Stepchildren do not have the automatic right to inherit from a stepparent. Despite blending marriages being on the rise, especially for people over 50, inheritance laws do not protect stepchildren. The law of who inherits usually goes like this: Spouses, biological children, siblings, then parents. 

Step kids do not have the same rights as biological or adopted kids. It seems unfair, especially if you have been with a stepchild from when they were very young, and there is a mutual love between both of you. Finding out more about inheritance laws will help you distribute your assets according to your wishes. 

 

A New Inheritor

Most parents want to help protect the future of any new baby that becomes the latest addition to the family. A will should be updated whether a baby is your biological child or adopted. Also, you might want to add a new beneficiary. Maybe you’ve got a grandchild, niece, or nephew to add. Or, maybe someone is disabled and depends on the money you provide them while you are alive.

Such a person will face extreme financial hardship if they have not been written in your will. Any new inheritor should prompt you to take another look, and adjust it.

 

Changes in Estate Value

An increase or decrease of the value of a property you own is another reason added to this list. You also might gain or lose a piece of property which means the will should be revised. It also includes property that you own in another state other than the one you reside in. 

Since inheritance laws can differ from state to state, you want to make sure how a property is recognized and what happens to it if it is located in another state or outside the country.

Make sure you have your will updated and ready. Whenever there is a change in inheritance laws or a change in your life that is tied to your will, you need to revise it. You will be much more comfortable distributing your wealth as you see fit rather than having a court do it for you if you don’t have a will. Your best route is to seek legal representation so that your loved ones are protected when you can no longer do anything for them.

 

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