Losing a loved one under any circumstances can be incredibly difficult, and your emotional pain may be all-encompassing, making it difficult to focus on the process of probate, in which the assets of your loved one’s estate are distributed to their heirs and beneficiaries. However, if you suspect that there is something wrong with your loved one’s last will and testament, it may be important to find the energy and focus to take legal action to contest it. Fortunately, a probate litigation attorney can help you handle the complications of this process, relieving much of your personal stress.
Reasons to Contest a Will
It is important to note that in Wisconsin, not just anyone has the standing to contest a will. In order to pursue a will contest, you usually must be named as a beneficiary in the current will or a previous version of the decedent’s will, or you must have a relationship to the decedent that would entitle you to inheritance through intestate succession, the process that takes place when a person dies without a will.
It is also not viable to contest a will simply because you are unhappy with its contents or because you believe that it treats you unfairly. In order for your contest to succeed, you will need evidence of impropriety in the creation of the will, which would make the will invalid under Wisconsin law. This impropriety could take a few different forms, including:
- Lack of testamentary capacity. Wisconsin law states that a testator, or the creator of a will, must be of sound mind. If you have reason to believe that the testator was mentally incapacitated at the time of the will’s creation such that he or she could not have understood the decisions made, then the will may be invalid.
- Undue influence on the testator. A will may also be invalid if its terms were influenced by coercion, threats, or manipulation directed toward the testator.
- Fraud. In addition to cases in which the testator created the will after being defrauded, a will can be invalidated if the signatures or the document itself were created fraudulently, such as by someone other than the supposed testator.
- Lack of signatures or witnesses. Typically, a Wisconsin will requires the signatures of the testator and two competent witnesses. If the will lacks these signatures or was improperly witnessed, there may be grounds to contest it.
Strong evidence is crucial for your chances of succeeding in contesting a will. Your attorney can help you solicit testimony from credible witnesses who can speak to the circumstances surrounding the creation of the will and the testator’s mental state at the time, and they can help you gather any documentation and other evidence that supports your claim.
Contact a Milwaukee Probate Litigation Attorney
Contesting a will is not easy, but it may be your best option for ensuring that your loved one’s true wishes are honored after his or her death. At Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP, our experienced Milwaukee, WI probate lawyers can advise and represent you as we build your case and present it in court. Contact us today at 414-271-1440.