Will Dispute Lawyers
When a dispute arises over a will, you might try to work it out among the family first. Emotions run high and families are often unable to work it out. The parties to this “probate dispute” may attempt to claim property they have no right to, or there may be problems with the will itself. Perhaps you were left out of the will by mistake, or because another person manipulated a loved one into changing a will while they were not in their right mind.
This is where a will dispute lawyer can help. You can contest a will through specific legal procedures whether you are in Indiana or Kentucky. As a law firm that drafts and contests wills on a regular basis, the will contest lawyers at Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet Law can help. We have the experience necessary to protect your interests.
These disputes can be incredibly complex, and you need a team with courtroom experience that truly has your back. Speak with our experienced probate litigation attorneys today for the help you need.
Why Choose Our Probate and Will Lawyers?
A will contest attorney at Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet Law is fully prepared to handle your case. We understand the difficulties you are going through. You have recently lost someone you care deeply about and now you are dealing with the stress of a contested will. In this situation, many assets are frozen in probate while at the same time you are trying to unravel the will contest. The legal process to contest a will is complicated, but our dedicated attorneys know how to pursue your interests and properly contest a will.
Our will contest lawyers will consult with you and get to know your unique circumstances. We can fully investigate the case to seek your desired outcomes. The attorneys at Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet Law truly care about our clients and the difficulties a will dispute causes them. We understand how to seek your desired results and will work with you to seek the compensation you deserve.
Can You Dispute a Will?
You can dispute a will when you meet the legal requirements to do so. Contesting a will is a complex process, but one best handled with anattorney with significant probate litigation experience. To contest a testamentary document like a will, you need to be an “interested party.”
An interested party is someone who is or would be entitled to inherit from a deceased person. This could include, but is not limited to:
- Any person named in the will
- A relative or family member
- A person entitled to inherit had the person died without a will.
Will disputes are usually limited to these interested parties. If you are a family member of someone who passed, you are likely an interested party. However, if you are not a relative, it does not mean you may not qualify. Interested party status is almost certain if you are named in the disputed will. Let our attorneys review the will and provide guidance on how to dispute it.
What Happens If There Are Multiple Wills?
In disputed situations, it is common for there to be multiple wills. Perhaps the decedent created a new will after a previous one. There may be confusion about which one controls or whether a will was properly signed by the decedent.
Anyone listed in the prior will may be considered an interested party and be permitted to join the lawsuit. This often occurs because the previous will grants that individual property or assets they want, while the new will reduces or eliminates it. In these cases, the contest will focus on which will was properly signed and controls the estate.
What Happens if a Will Is Contested?
To contest a will, an interested person is required to file their claim within three months after the date of an order admitting the will to probate (In Kentucy the process of filing a will contest must happen within two years of probate being opened). If the case is not filed within this strict time limit, it is likely that you will lose your right to file a will contest. The best way to avoid this potential problem is to speak with a will attorney as soon as possible after discovering there is a problem with the will.
If the will is contested, there are certain grounds you must raise. It is not enough to dislike what the will says or what it does. You must have specific grounds to contest the validity of the will. These may include the following:
Lack of Testamentary Capacity
A person lacks the testamentary capacity to draft a will when they are of unsound mind. To be of unsound mind, the person must be cognitively deficient in some way that made them unable to understand the nature of their choices or actions. These could include situations such as:
- The testator had Alzheimer’s Disease.
- The testator suffered from dementia.
- The testator was unconscious.
- The testator suffered from some other mental incapacity or developmental disability.
If the will was drafted when the testator could not have understood what they were doing, lack of testamentary capacity might help you challenge the will.
Undue influence occurs when a person controls or coerces the testator into changing the will to their benefit. This is common with elderly or infirm individuals who rely on people for help. This may include a caregiver, family member, or someone else close to the testator who could have influenced their actions and choices when drafting a will.
Fraud occurs when the testator is tricked into signing the will. A person may be tricked into thinking they are signing another document. They may also be tricked into thinking that they are signing a version of the will they have seen before but are unaware of changes someone made to it.
Improper Execution of the Will
Indiana requires that a valid will must meet certain requirements. The will must be in writing to be valid under Indiana law. Other requirements are:
- The will must be signed by the testator in the presence of two attesting witnesses.
- The witnesses must sign the will in front of the testator.
Many of these requirements apply to Kentucky wills as well. Any errors with the execution of the will could render it invalid. This can be strong evidence in a will contest case.
If we’re going to market this to folks in Indiana and Kentucky, then we need to have the will execution rules listed for Indiana and Kentucky.
Is Contesting a Will Worth It?
Contesting a will can be a stressful process, especially if you try to do it on your own. The legal process to challenge a will is incredibly complicated. You must follow strict timelines, complex filing requirements, and be able to prove grounds to contest the will. However, you do not have to do this alone. With the help of a qualified will contest attorney, you can seek the justified compensation that can make it all worth it.
Determining whether a will contest is worth it is best discussed with an experienced probate litigation attorney. The attorney can help you determine the strengths and weaknesses of your case. To do so, they will consider questions like:
- What assets or property do you seek in your will contest?
- Do you dispute the will or are you defending it?
- Are you an interested party that has standing to file a will dispute lawsuit?
- What is the likelihood of success for your will contest lawsuit?
Ultimately, this determination is made based on the unique facts of your case. Your initial consultation will help answer many of these questions.
Benefits of a Will Contest
A successful will contest could help you enforce a valid will you want to see protected or it could help you challenge a defective will that left you out of the equation. You know what you want and what you are entitled to. A will contest may help you:
- Defend a will against other claimants
- Protect the assets granted to you in the will
- Challenge a will that does not comply with legal requirements
- Pursue assets you are owed.
Will Dispute FAQs
What Is My Will Contest Lawsuit Worth?
The value of your will contest lawsuit will depend on what you seek. Factors include the value of the assets you want, your percentage of interest in the property, and the total value of the decedent’s estate.
Will Contest Lawsuits vs. Settlement
A will contest lawsuit gives you your day in court if you need it. However, many cases can be settled out of court with the help of a knowledgeable will dispute attorney. Settlement occurs when the parties can agree to a solution to the problem rather than continuing to fight about it. Settlement is usually accomplished by a settlement agreement, which is a legal contract that resolves the will dispute.
Competing parties are often willing to settle to avoid the cost and delays of litigation. At times, the fact that you hired an experienced attorney can foster settlement quickly and get you the results you are looking for. In other situations, mediation can help negotiate a resolution. This occurs when a neutral third party helps facilitate discussions and a mutual resolution to the case.
What States Do You Practice In?
Our will dispute attorneys practice in both Indiana and Kentucky. We are prepared to handle your case in multiple counties in each of those states.
We Are Ready to Help
Our will dispute lawyers are ready to help you with your claim. We are well-versed in Kentucky and Indiana will contest laws and know how to approach these cases to your best advantage. Our attorneys care about what you are going through and want to assist you.
Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet Law is ready to help you with your will dispute. Contact us today or call 812-725-8224 to schedule a consultation for your case.
Attorney Steve Langdon
Licensed to practice in both Indiana and Kentucky, Steve Langdon is an experienced elder law and trial attorney. In addition to his litigation and trial work, Steve’s practice includes wills, trusts, probate, Medicaid planning, guardianship, powers of attorney, and advanced directive planning, including living wills and health care surrogate designations. [ Attorney Bio ]
Attorney Gary Banet
Gary is licensed to practice law in both Indiana and Kentucky. He concentrates his practice in estate planning, estate and trust administration, estate and trust litigation, guardianships, elder law and special-needs planning. Gary earned his J.D. from the University of Louisville, Louis D. Brandeis School of Law, and formerly practiced law at Bingham Greenebaum Doll and Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs. [ Attorney Bio ]