Grounds to Contest a Will in Pennsylvania
If you believe that someone else's will is legally invalid, you need to understand the grounds to challenge a will. There are several different remedies available to challenge a will if you believe that something illegal has occurred. An unhappy child, grandchild, friend, relative, or spouse might be interested in contesting a deceased person's will.
The unhappy spouse might have an option that is unavailable to anyone else, which is known as an election against the will. Unless that spouse has given up his or her right to elect in a valid prenup agreement under Pennsylvania law, a dissatisfied spouse can elect to take one third of the deceased spouse's estate rather than his or her share under the will. Typically, a surviving spouse has to make such an election no later than six months of the date of death or six months from the date of probate.
With any probate dispute, there is the potential for delays in the process as well as costs that come about due to pursuing or defending the legal claim. If you think, for example, that the executor is not doing the right things or has broken the law in his or her position, a claim could be filed based on breach of fiduciary duty and this should be filed as soon as possible.
A Philadelphia will challenge attorney can help you. A Philadelphia will challenge lawyer is there to advise you about whether or not your case meets the ground for challenging a will to begin with. Making such an election can affect a surviving spouse's rights when it comes to jointly own property, annuities, retirement plans, employee benefits and life insurance. This is why such an election should only be exercised with care and guidance from an experienced lawyer. In other situations, you can challenge a will based on a lawsuit to enforce a debt. Sometimes you may be under the impression that you were owed something by the now deceased individual that should have been covered by the will. If this is a true debtor creditor relationship and that debt remains valid, the will is immaterial. A creditor is eligible to sue a debtor's estate with the help of a will challenge lawyer in Philadelphia to recover the debt without regard to what is listed inside the will. A valid contract between two persons which shows that the now deceased individual made a valid promise to leave the other person something through the will can also form the basis of a will challenge lawsuit. Their intention to provide for someone in the will, however, is a different matter entirely.
There are several different ways to challenge the validity of the will itself, including forgery, mental capacity, undue influence, fraud and failure to meet the legal requirements of a will. Typically, a will cannot be challenged while the person who made it is still alive, since a competent living person retains the right to change their will at any time. Validity can only be challenged after the person has passed away and is no longer able to change the will. A will challenge attorney in Philadelphia can help explain to you whether or not the grounds that you perceive to be the basis of your case truly do represent a full case contesting the very validity of the will itself. There are limited exceptions to these rules but in all situations, it helps to have the insight of an experienced Philadelphia lawyer to guide you through.