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Options when left out of a will

On Behalf of | Apr 24, 2023 | Estate Planning

The loss of a close family member is a devastating time in the lives of loved ones. Certain matters require attention, particularly when it comes to funeral arrangements. Eventually, estate planning matters must be dealt with as well.

For some, mourning turns to shock when they discover that their loved one left them out of their will, particularly if they are told they are part of the overall estate plan. The exclusion is devasting while creating uncertainty as to why. Some wills clarify the so-called slight, while others provide no information at all.

The need for certainty

Specific steps can provide clarification. More forceful approaches see a loved one contest the will. The options are admittedly limited and require proving the following to have the will dismissed:

  • Coercion
  • Diminished mental capacity
  • Fraud

Proving any of those factors makes a will contest the ultimate uphill battle. The legally complex and emotionally charged aspects require significant amounts of time and even more substantial amounts of money for legal costs. Even if it is successful, spending money to contest a will may lead to minimal, if any, of the overall inheritance.

Your standing in such a legal pursuit is of paramount importance. Simply put, you must be part of the family to take on such a task. The deceased may have discussed an inheritance, but nothing specific in the way of the monetary amount. Going back in time to document that conversation is not an option.

Proof is paramount

Simply put, evidence is everything. If you believe that the will has been changed or was written under duress, getting to the facts of that allegation may be too little and too late. At best, you need to reach out to the executor for the current will and ask if any previous versions exist.

Careful thought must go into this type of battle, taking away time, finances, and personal connections with friends and loved ones who also grieve the loss. Mediation may be the best option for many who have to endure the omission.