Most people in the United States do not have an estate plan, but the ones that do typically only have a last will and testament. A will does not bypass the probate process, meaning it cannot transfer assets to beneficiaries without going through probate. The first step of probate is filing a petition for probate and providing notice to the heirs, beneficiaries and creditors.
If you directly received the notice, you most likely have a pecuniary interest in the estate. You see, only a person with a legal standing to the estate can contest a will. You would have to be a beneficiary named in the will, a beneficiary named in a previous will or someone who would be eligible to inherit even if a will did not exist.
When should you contest a will?
Contesting a will is a lawsuit that challenges the legitimacy of the will. One of the most important goals of probate is establishing whether the submitted will is valid before administrating the estate according to the will. If you decide to contest the will, it will not yet be enforceable, and you will stop the distribution of the estate. You should contest a will if you believe any of the following occurred:
- The will is a product of an interested party’s coercion or undue influence and does not reflect the testator’s last wishes.
- The testator lacked sufficient mental capacity to knowingly and intentionally create or sign a will.
- The execution of the will was inadequate or incorrect.
- The will does not meet Nevada’s basic legal requirements.
- The personal representative or estate administrator breached their fiduciary duty.
A will contest involves civil litigation. You would be the plaintiff, and the petitioner would be the defendant. Estate administration can only begin again once a court reaches its verdict concerning the will’s validity. The court will require you to provide evidence to prove something is wrong with the will to render it invalid.
Protecting your fair share
If you believe that someone influenced the will or the execution of the will in any way that puts you at a disadvantage, you deserve to seek justice and fight for your fair share. You should contest the will because you know your loved one and you want to fulfill their last wishes. It is about protecting yourself and preserving your loved one’s legacy.