July 9, 2019
If you have recently lost a loved one and are surprised or confused by the terms of his or her will, there’s a good chance that you’ve considered whether you can take legal action. Perhaps you feel like the terms of the will do not accurately represent what you understood your loved one’s wishes to be or you suspect that a caregiver or another party improperly influenced your loved one near the end of his or her life.
Whatever the case may be, we have some good news – in certain cases, you may be able to contest a will and have the entire document or certain provisions invalidated. To discuss the specifics of your case with a Virginia estate litigation lawyer, call our office today at 703-520-1326.
Under Virginia law, only an “interested person” can contest a will. This does not mean anyone curious about the terms of a will can bring a legal challenge, as the term “interested person” has a precise legal meaning. To be an interested person, you must either:
• Be entitled to receive assets under the terms of the will
• Be entitled to receive assets under Virginia’s intestacy laws in the event that the will is invalidated
Put into plain English, you can contest a will if you are a person named as a beneficiary in the will or if you would be able to inherit assets in the event the will was declared invalid, such as a child, parent, or spouse of the decedent.
Just as not everyone can challenge a will, there are limitations on why a will can be challenged at all. The law does not allow you to challenge a will simply because you do not like what it says. Some of the more commonly recognized grounds for challenging a will include:
• The decedent did not have the requisite mental capacity when the will was executed
• The decedent did not follow the formalities required by Virginia law to execute a valid will
• The decedent was subject to undue influence or duress at the time the will was executed
While there is no legal rule that requires a person contesting a will to retain legal representation, it is highly advisable to do so. The law that governs the validity and interpretation of wills in Virginia is extremely complex, and the assistance of an attorney will ensure that your case is presented in the strongest light possible.
If you are considering contesting a will in which you have an interest, it’s important that you retain legal representation right away. At McClanahan Powers, PLLC, we understand how seriously the outcome of probate can affect a person’s financial and emotional well-being and work hard to bring each case we take to a favorable resolution. To schedule a consultation with an estate litigation lawyer in Virginia, call our office today at 703-520-1326 or contact us online. Our estate planning attorneys can help protect your family and customize to your needs.