A Will can always be contested, but the result can be uncertain. You have to have a basis to contest a Will; you must show that there is either something wrong with the Will or that there was something wrong about the conditions under way the Will was made. For example, you can challenge a Will by claiming that:
* the Will does not meet formal requirements, such as proper signatures or witnesses;
* the person signing the Will did not have the capacity to make a Will; or
* the person signing the Will did so under suspect conditions, like fraud, mistake, or undue influence.
If the Will you want to contest includes a “no contest” clause, you may risk losing any inheritance the Will provides to you. Many Wills contain a no contest clause which says something along the lines of “I disinherit anyone who challenges this Will.” No contest clauses are meant to discourage Will contests by disgruntled heirs.
In reality, however, good faith challenges are rarely thwarted by a no contest clause. So if you have good reason to contest a Will, a no contest clause shouldn’t deter you. Also, the likelihood of a court upholding a no contest clause varies greatly by state and by circumstance. So just because a Will has a no contest clause doesn’t necessarily mean it will be enforced.
A more practical risk to a Will contest is the time and money that it will cost to mount the challenge. To challenge a Will, you’ll need to hire a lawyer and pay court fees. And the issue will likely take months, if not years, to resolve. Will contests are complicated and you will need the help of an experienced lawyer. Give us a call at 253.858.5434 if we can be of service to you, your family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers.