Nashville Will Contest Attorneys

The decision to contest a will is not an easy step to take. However, a will contest may sometimes be necessary to ensure your loved one’s actual wishes are carried out. For years, the Nashville wills contest lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC have been helping families contest the validity of wills throughout Middle Tennessee. We understand how hard these decisions can be. We’ll work hard to make sure the process goes smoothly and without much stress.

Contesting a Will: What You Need to Know

A will contest is a formal objection someone raises if an individual believes the document is invalid. To contest the validity of a will, you need to have one of the following reasons:

Reasons for Contesting a Will

Testamentary Capacity – The person must have been of sound mind at the time of the will’s creation. The individual has to know: 

  • They are making a will and its effect. 
  • The nature and value of the estate. 
  • The consequences of including or excluding people from the will. 
  • They should not be suffering a “disorder of the mind” that could have an influence on their views.

Lack of Valid Execution – Also known as “lack of due execution,” the will must meet certain requirements in order to be considered valid. These requirements are:

  • The will is in writing. 
  • A testator or someone directed to do so by the testator signs the will.
  • The testator’s signature gives effect to the will. 
  • The testator makes or acknowledges in the presence of at least two witnesses.
  • Each witness must either sign or attest to the will, or acknowledge the signature in the presence of a testator.
  • The legal presumption that the will is valid unless evidence says otherwise.

In addition, the rules about who can and cannot witness a will’s creation are very strict.

Lack of Knowledge and Approval – The individual needs to have knowledge and approval of the content in the will. Even if the person was of sound mind and the will seems to have been executed properly, if the individual had no knowledge of what is in the document, it can be contested. For example, if the preparer of the will had put something in the will about a charitable gift that the person was unaware of, the will may be considered invalid.

Undue Influence – Sometimes, the individual may be coerced or under duress by another while creating the will. This would be a case of undue influence. It’s important to note that concrete evidence is necessary in the case of undue influence.

Fraudulent or Forged Wills – Much like undue influence, you will need to prove that the will had been forged by another or fraud has taken place.

Rectification and Construction Claims – Rectification of a will may occur if the intentions of the testator had failed to be carried out because of either a clerical error or a failure to understand the instructions.

What Happens When You Contest a Will

Let’s say your grandmother had passed away, and you learned that she hadn’t left you anything. But later, someone finds another will, one that says you’re supposed to inherit her home. You decide to contest the will. What happens next?

First, you need to know that there is a statute of limitations concerning will contests. In Tennessee, you have only two years to contest a will at the time the court had approved the will for probate. If the plaintiff is a minor at the time of the discovery of a new will that is made after two years, the two-year rule may be waived. 

Then you hire an experienced wills contest attorney like one at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC to guide you through the process. We will fight on your behalf and show the court why the will is invalid. If the court finds the will to be invalid, you have two options:

  • The court will enforce an earlier will; or 
  • The court will divide assets based on how Tennessee intestate laws would divide the estate.

Who Can Contest a Will?

In Tennessee, there are certain individuals who can contest a will. These people include:

  • Those who would have been entitled to a share of the deceased’s estate; or
  • Someone who will stand to receive something in the deceased’s will.

However, if the individual is not a beneficiary, and if they would not inherit under intestacy law, they do not have a right to contest the will.

More specifically, a person who is related to the testator may have the standing to contest a will.

Contact Our Nashville Will Contest Lawyers Now

If you are questioning the validity of a loved one’s will, it’s best to get legal advice on your next steps. For decades, the Tennessee wills contest lawyers at Martin Heller Potempa & Sheppard, PLLC have been helping clients throughout Nashville, Springfield, and Middle Tennessee with their estate planning. We are prepared to help you through this difficult time. Contact us today for more information.

We Can Help

If you need legal assistance regarding wills contests matters, contact us online or call us at (615) 800-7096 today for a consultation with an experienced attorney.

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