What To Do If You Were Omitted From A Will
Imagine this: You have a loved one that you have cared for, and he or she has cared for you. He or she has said that you will be in the will, and given that you are family, you naturally would expect that to be the case. But later, upon passing, you learn that the deceased has left you out of the will, or else, reduced what you would have expected to inherit.
You understandably feel betrayed and insulted. This isn’t just about money—it’s about knowing that someone you thought loved and cared for you, could possibly purposely exclude you from their will. What do you do now?
Get a Copy of the Estate Documents
The first step is to get a copy of the will, and any amendments to the will, to see when you were omitted from the will or when your inheritance was reduced—that is, whether you were excluded when the will was initially drafted, or whether you were initially included, and then cut out upon a later amendment to the will. The later it is that you were excluded, the better your chances at success are. That doesn’t mean that if you were never in the will, challenging it is impossible, it just makes it more difficult.
The Condition of the Deceased
If you can pin down the time that you were excluded, you may want to ask if it correlates with any life event for the deceased.
For example, is it when the deceased may have gotten ill, and may not have had the capacity to change his or her will? Is it at a time that the deceased may have been under the influence of someone who could have coerced him or her to exclude you from the will? You are looking to see if capacity, coercion, or undue influence may have been at play, participating in your exclusion from the will.
Getting an Attorney
It’s now time for you to get a good will contest attorney, and see what your options may be, and what your chances of successfully challenging the will are. Remember, as the challenger, it is up to you to prove that there was something in the deceased’s life or health that should make the will or any amendment to it, invalid.
Best Case Scenario?
One thing you should ask is what happens if you win, and get the will or the amendment to the will invalidated. For example, if you were excluded in an amendment to the will, and the amendment is invalidated, what were you scheduled to receive in the original will?
If you were excluded in the original will, you could have a problem, because if you win, the estate will default to intestate laws, that say who gets what when there is no will. What you get usually depends on your familial relationship to the deceased.
What would you stand to inherit under those laws? You don’t want to challenge a will and win, only to find you still get nothing under intestate statutes.
Are you having a problem with a probate or a will related legal issue? The Law Offices of Larry E. Bray is ready to help. Contact West Palm Beach estate planning lawyer Larry E. Bray today to schedule a consultation.