A last will and testament—also simply called a will—communicates a person’s last wishes for the time after his death. However, Rhode Island law allows for certain parties to dispute the legality of the document with proper grounds, and this is called contesting a will. It’s important to understand what happens after a complaint is made and how an attorney can help you confirm your loved one’s will.
After the Complaint
The person contesting the will must have legal grounds by which to challenge it, as well as find, organize, and present evidence to support the claim. Many wills are verified quickly and easily (especially if they are self-proving wills), but it’s also possible that a lengthy and complicated dispute will follow a will contest. Common claims involve evidence questioning:
- The document’s compliance with state laws
- The mental state of the deceased at the time of signing
- The circumstances under which the deceased signed the document—that is, whether the signer was forced or tricked
After the challenger brings the complaint, your first step should be to call an attorney—to represent and preserve your loved one’s wishes, help you understand complex law, and prepare you to make decisions—but also to protect the truth.
Methods for Preserving the Will
Even if it seems that the will’s challenger has sufficient legal grounds and evidence, it’s still possible to preserve your loved one’s will as is. You, the will’s executor, and your estate planning attorney can:
- Find missing witnesses
- Hire a handwriting analyst (if the will was penned by hand)
- Request affidavits from witnesses
Guidance From a Skilled Lawyer
If someone is contesting the will of your loved one and you have more questions, it’s important to find an attorney whose opinion you can trust. Kirshenbaum & Kirshenbaum has been in practice for decades, and we want to put our experience to work for you. To begin a conversation with a knowledgeable team member, contact us today.