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What to do if you’re left out of a will

On Behalf of | Dec 30, 2020 | Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts

If you believe that you’re entitled to a portion of a deceased person’s estate, it may be possible to contest the terms of that individual’s will. However, there is no guarantee that an Arizona judge will agree to hear your objections or that a legal challenge will nullify the terms of a valid last will and testament.

Do you have standing to contest a will’s terms?

To have standing to challenge a will, you must be able to show that you would have been included in the document if the testator hadn’t been subject to undue influence. Alternatively, you might have standing if you can prove that the copy of the will presented to the court was outdated.

You can’t contest a will simply because you don’t like its terms

Generally speaking, a person has the right to pursue any type of estate planning strategy that he or she wants. For instance, a parent could choose to disinherit a child if a testator clearly states his or her intent to do so in the document itself. Furthermore, a person may choose to disinherit a spouse.

Is it worth the time and effort to mount a legal challenge?

There is a good chance that you will need to hire a lawyer to assist in the effort to invalidate a deceased friend’s or family member’s final wishes. It’s also worth noting that the decedent’s estate will need to cover any costs of defending against your challenge in court. Therefore, even if a court awards you a portion of that person’s probate assets, it may be less than what you would have received through an out-of-court resolution. Ultimately, it may be in your best interest to resolve the dispute through mediation as opposed to litigation.

If you feel strongly that you have been wrongfully left out of a will, it may be a good idea to speak with an attorney. He or she may be able to review the matter and provide more insight into your legal options.