If you or your loved ones suspect that the will submitted for probate in Kentucky is not the appropriate document, you need to share these concerns with a Kentucky will contest attorney as soon as possible. Challenging and defending any will validity claims requires the expertise of a knowledgeable attorney who has handled cases like this before. Going through a case like this on your own can expose you to unnecessary mistakes and problems.
Understanding Will Contests
As a will contest lawyer in Kentucky can tell you, this is a legal proceeding to challenge the validity of an existing will. If you believe that a will that currently impacts you as a beneficiary may be invalid, you need to speak to an attorney about this to discuss the legalities of a will contest.
Common Factors in Will Contests
When you are disappointed about what is included inside a will, this in and of itself is not enough to challenge a will. It is certainly possible to be disappointed about the intentions of a deceased party but a will contest needs to be based on solid legal theory about the reasons why the will should be invalidated. These can include concerns, such as:
- Lack of testamentary capacity
- Undue influence, coercion or duress.
- Improper will execution
- Superseded will
- Mistakes or ambiguity
What Happens After a Will Is Probated?
When a loved one passes away, the personal representative or executor appointed in the estate must step forward to open probate. The will is then submitted for probate in the local area where deceased lived, which is a district court location. The process of probating the will requires that this will is presented to the court for acceptance.
This is usually carried out by the individual who is appointed as the executor to administer the estate and usually this person will also have a vested interest in defending the probated will. At that point in time when the will is first brough to court the probate hearing only concerns whether or not the will seems to be valid per KY laws.
For example, a non-handwritten will must need to be recognized by the testator and must be signed by that testator and in the presence of two witnesses. In some circumstances, a handwritten will, which also might be referred to as a holographic will, can be submitted to court.
In this initial stage the will is not evaluated at a deep level to determine if any of the above mentioned factors could invalidate the document.
Starting a Will Contest
It is important for any party who is thinking about starting a will contest to retain a will contest attorney in Kentucky right away. The process of filing a will contest must happen within two years of probate being opened.
Issues can emerge in the estate administration process during this time period that could complicate the proceedings for a will contest, such as the distribution of assets to beneficiaries named in the contested will.
Therefore, it is in the best interests of any interested party who is concerned about the validity of this will to move forward as soon as possible to retain legal action. If these assets have already been distributed it becomes much more difficult or even impossible to recover some of the assets even if the underlying grounds of the will contest are valid and successful. Not everyone in Kentucky who is disappointed with the aspects of the will is eligible to initiate a will contest. The cases must be brought forward by an interested party, meaning a person who can illustrate financial harm generated from the probated will.
The only ones who can open a will contest are those who stand to receive more if the will contest is successful.
This case is initiated by filing a court petition stating the basis for which the will is allegedly invalid and this begins a formal estate litigation process. The purpose of the court’s evaluation during this time is to determine whether or not the probated will is valid. If it turns out that the will submitted for probate is invalid, the estate property passes to either heirs under the terms of another will or the heirs under the intestate rules of Kentucky.