In most instances, wills are processed through probate without a problem. However, it is possible to contest a will or challenge its validity. A will contest is a formal objection raised against the validity of a will, based on the contention that the will does not reflect the actual intent of the testator, the individual who created the will. Typically, will contests focus on the assertion that the testator lacked the mental capacity or was subject to undue influence or fraud.
Skilled Oklahoma Probate Litigation Lawyers
At Cheadle & Associates in Tulsa, Oklahoma, we offer extensive experience resolving disputes over the terms of a will and the administration of a family estate. For more than 30 years, our firm's Tulsa will contest lawyer has advocated and defended the interests of any party involved in a will contest. When you select our law firm, we will work directly with you to help sort out the intentions of your loved one's will. We are committed to making sure your loved one's wishes are maintained.
Many wills contain a no-contest provision, which is intended to dissuade anyone from challenging the testator's wishes. Basically, a no-contest clause forces a beneficiary to choose between taking what is provided under the will or receiving nothing at all should he or she be unsuccessful in a will contest. Contact our law firm today to schedule a consultation. We will review the terms of the will to determine the best way to proceed.
Grounds for Contesting a Will
One of the requirements for contesting a will is that you have a connection to the will and are harmed by its contents. You either have to be named in the will, (believing that you should have inherited differently); or should have been named in the will but were not or would have received money if the person had died without a will.
Our firm's probate litigation attorney, Grant Cheadle, will evaluate your individual situation to make sure you have a valid reason to challenge a will, such as undue influence, fraud, mistake, or loss of mental capacity of the testator. Disagreement with what will be your inheritance is not a sufficient ground to contest a will.
Some will contests are based on allegations that the deceased person was not of sound mind or lacked testamentary capacity. In Oklahoma, wills must be signed and witnessed by at least two people.
Fraud, Undue Influence and Mistake
A will can be found to be voidable if it was made under undue influence (i.e. duress), fraud or was a mistake. If a will is voided, the estate will be distributed under the laws of intestacy. If only part of the will is voided, then the share from the voided distribution is treated as part of the residuary estate and dispersed accordingly as per the will. Undue influence could be present when a trusted person influences the testator to make a will that benefits a particular party.
A will or any part of it may be voided if it was created under fraudulent means. The possibility of fraud exists if the testator was presented with misrepresented information that caused him or her to change the terms of the will.
A mistake is proven when the testator did not intend to include certain provisions in a will or the testator signed the wrong will. If, however, the testator made a will under a mistaken belief of fact (i.e. was mistaken in his or her belief regarding certain facts), that mistake generally would not invalidate the will.
Tortuous Interference With Expectancy
Instead of contesting a will or claiming it is invalid for any of the above reasons, there is another way to challenge the probate estate. A lawsuit can be filed against the person who is receiving the property on the grounds of tortuous interference. Tortuous interference requires that you prove the defendant (the person you are suing) interfered with the creation of the will for any reason, and without this interference you would have inherited differently.
Contact Us Today
Every will contest is unique. Contact us today to discuss your individual situation. We will take the right steps to preserve your loved one's best interests.