A will can be challenged or contested on many grounds. If a will is found to be invalid, or if it is not the proper will to be probated, then it will not be given any effect by the probate court. The result may be that another will is offered and probated instead, but more often there is only one will in existence, and if it is not accepted by the probate court, the estate may be disbursed according to Kentucky laws of intestate succession for people who die without a will. This outcome may be far from what was intended when the will was created. The attorneys at John H. Ruby & Associates represent parties in this critical area of litigation. Our probate lawyers advise and represent people seeking to contest a will as well as the executor or other person defending the will’s validity.
Common Grounds for Will Contests
Below are some of the most common ways that wills are contested in Kentucky:
Lack of Capacity – An allegation that the person making the will (the testator) lacked capacity to make a will. In order to make a will, a person must be 18 years old and of sound mind. Most challenges of lack of capacity revolve around the issue of the testator’s mental competence at the time the will was executed. Generally speaking, the testator must have the mental competence to know that he or she is making a will and understand the nature and extent of the estate, i.e. the assets the person is giving away. Many different types of evidence may be presented to accuse or defend someone of mental incompetence, and this question can be a complicated one to resolve.
Intent – The person must have intended to make a will. This issue is closely related to the capacity question. Related arguments are that the will was executed as a result of fraud or mistake, or under duress or undue influence from a family member or other person who stands to inherit.
Statute of Wills Violations – In order for a will to be valid under Kentucky law, it must be signed by the testator in front of two competent witnesses who also sign the will. There are exceptions to these requirements, and there are other requirements as well. If a will is not duly executed, it may be in serious trouble.
Amended or Revoked Wills – A will can be altered or revoked by making certain marks or changes to the will, but unless the testator has received legal advice on how to do this, the attempt may very likely be unsuccessful and not enforced in probate court.
More than One Will – When multiple wills exist and are offered into probate, the judge must hold a hearing and decide which is the latest, valid will to be given effect. Like other will contests, this issue can be complicated and difficult to resolve.
Seek Experienced Legal Representation in Louisville & Oldham Will Contests
If you find yourself on either side of will contest litigation in Jefferson or Oldham County, call on John H. Ruby & Associates for sound legal advice and effective advocacy in probate court.