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Three tips for executors facing a will challenge

Getting named as an executor or executrix of a will is a serious responsibility. These responsibilities are put to the test when the will in question is challenged.

What leads to a will challenge? A will can be challenged for a number of reasons. Two of the more common instances that result in ac contested will involve questions of the mental capacity of the creator of the will and allegations that another party unduly influenced the creator into making certain bequests.

For these challenges, the person contesting the will generally questions whether the will meets the creator's intentions.

What is an executor or executrix to do when dealing with a contested will? Those who are facing these challenges can benefit from a basic understanding of the process. Although the exact process will vary depending on the details of the situation, the following three steps are fairly common:

  • Gather evidence. The first step is generally to contact the legal counsel that crafted the will that is in dispute. This attorney can stand as a witness to the validity of the document and the wishes of the creator.
  • File paperwork. In most cases, certain paperwork responding to the allegations is required. This often includes an Answer to the Verified Compliant. This document generally includes information about the health and mental condition of the creator of the will.
  • Establish the estate. Gather information about the assets in the estate.

Taking on the task of defending the will may be intimidating. If the thought of the cost of defense is concerning, keep in mind that these costs are generally covered by the estate. In most cases, the executor or executrix of the will is not held personally responsible for these expenses.

Should an executor or executrix seek legal counsel? These issues can be complex. As a result, it is often wise for an executor or executrix that finds him or herself navigating these issues to seek legal counsel. An experienced will contest lawyer can review the details of the situation and help to gather evidence to support the validity of the will.

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