If you or your loved ones have a need to go to court to dispute the contents of a will, you need the support of an Alabama will contest lawyer to support you. Although you can certainly initiate a claim on your own if you meet the basic requirements of Alabama’s statutes, it is recommended that you have the support of an experienced attorney to guide you through the process and to answer any of the common questions that might come up during it.
Will contest lawyers in Alabama can support you with a range of different disputes over the validity of a will. You’ll want to work with a law firm that has experience in representing clients and challenging the validity of wills so that you can have confidence that you understand each aspect of your case.
Understanding the Basics
A will in Alabama is of course the basic written document expressing the wishes of the person who has passed away about what will happen to their assets after their death. A will can also propose a guardian for any minor children. Anyone who is over the age of 18 and is of sound mind in Alabama is eligible to make a will. There are other requirements in place such as that the will needs to be in writing, needs to be signed in the presence of two witnesses, has to be signed by the testator directly, and is signed by the witnesses. If a will is deemed invalid or if there is no will, assets are distributed to next of kin per the existing statutes under Alabama law. This depends on numerous different factors such as whether or not the person who passed away was married at the time of death or whether or not they had children from that marriage. The statutes in Alabama have a specific order through which assets for next of kin will be identified.
Eligibility to Dispute a Will
As a will contest lawyer in Alabama can tell you, only interested parties are eligible to initiate a will contest. This includes people who are listed as beneficiaries in the will or those who would receive at least a portion of the estate should the will be declared invalid. A person who is related to the testator but is not necessarily related closely enough to get part of the estate generally does not have the ability to initiate a will challenge or will contest and it usually wouldn’t be in their best interests to do so anyways.
These are extremely complex cases that go through the Alabama courts and having the support of a will contest attorney in Alabama is instrumental. You should always consult with a lawyer before trying to move forward with this case on your own. Alabama law regarding how and when a will contest can be filed is very strictly enforced and is very technical.
The probate court in which the will was offered is the first place you would need to file paperwork to contest a will. Any party to the contest that began in probate court can demand at the time of the initial pleading that the case be transferred to a surrogate court as well. The probate judge is then responsible for transferring the contest to the surrogate court in the county in which the contest is made.
Grounds for Ruling a Will Invalid
It is the responsibility of the person who initiates a will contest to be able to provide evidence regarding allegations that the will is invalid. This can be a strong requirement to me and is yet another reason why you want the support of a law firm with you directly. It can be overwhelming to handle these kinds of cases on your own.
One of the most common reasons for initiating a will contest is due to a claim of mental incapacity. In order for a will to be ruled invalid in Alabama, the testator must have testamentary capacity, meaning they understood the document that they were signing in the decisions that they were making.
Declining mental conditions could be a reason for you to initiate a will challenge. Undue influence is another common area for will contests in Alabama. This could mean that a person close to the testator who had significant influence over them closer to the time of their death could have initiated major changes in the will’s distribution provisions. If any legal requirements weren’t met, this is a third type of case for which a will contest can be started.
A will is usually typed and witnessed by a minimum of two people who have no interest in the will. Do it yourself and online forms that are not specifically customized for Alabama law might not meet legal requirements. Any other valid objection to the will might also be seen as a reason to invalidate the document itself. A team of experienced will dispute lawyers can help you to decide which of these apply in your case.