When a loved one dies, especially a parent, it takes time to grieve and process emotions, so that you can find closure and learn to move on in life without your beloved family member. Certain issues may arise that disrupt the grieving process and may even cause contention between the decedent’s surviving relatives. Such issues often involve Indiana probate, such as someone stepping forward to challenge a will.
If you believe that your loved one’s last will and testament is invalid, you can seek a probate court judge’s intervention. Situations like this often cause family discord, however, which is why you’ll want to make sure you have a strong support network in place to help you deal with any problems that arise. Before challenging a will, it is important to make sure that there is just cause.
Reasons that an Indiana probate judge might rule a will invalid
If you are 18 or older and of sound mind, you may execute an estate plan at any time. This process might include signing a last will and testament. When you sign estate planning documents, they become legally enforceable, if you sign them in accordance with Indiana estate laws. The following list shows issues that might compel someone to challenge a will:
- Evidence that the estate owner lacked capacity to sign a will
- Belief that fraud has occurred
- Benefactor signed the will under duress
- Forged signature
Suspecting such things and proving them in court are two entirely separate issues. If you are considering challenging a will, it is best to gather as much evidence as possible ahead of time, so that you will be able to convince a probate judge to side in your favor.
What does “lack of capacity” mean?
One of the reasons listed in the previous section as legitimate cause to challenge a last will and testament in an Indiana probate court is “lack of capacity.” If this is your basis for issuing a challenge, it means that you can show evidence that the testator (your now deceased loved one) did not fully know or understand the consequences of his or her will.
This might have been the case because your loved one didn’t know the true value of his or her estate. If you believe that your family member was not of sound mind, due to dementia or some other issue, this will also constitute a lack of capacity to sign a will.
Making sure to carry out your loved one’s wishes
Challenging a will or other Indiana probate issues can be complex and difficult to resolve. This might be especially true if there are others who are opposing your challenge. To increase your chances of obtaining a positive outcome, it is helpful to learn as much as possible about any laws that may be relevant to your case before you submit your petition in court.
You will want to make sure that you have evidence to substantiate any claim that you make as to why you believe that your loved one’s last will and testament is not valid.