A will represents a person’s wishes for what they want to happen to their assets after their death. The basis for probate and estate law centers around the idea that these documents are genuine and project an accurate representation of a testator’s wishes. Sadly, this is not always the case. With many estates holding thousands or millions of dollars in value, illegal activity such as fraud, duress, and undue influence is common in the world of probate law. This could lead to interested parties alleging that a will is void under the law.
A Denver contested will lawyer could help if you believe that the validity of one of these documents is in question. One of our attorney could also help in situations where you need to demonstrate that a will accurately reflects a decedent’s wishes.
One of the main purposes of a will is to preempt the state’s laws concerning intestacy. A person dies intestate when they have no will, or their will does not meet the legal requirements under state law. Colorado Revised Statute § 15-11-302 and CO Rev. Stat. § 15-11-202 describe the steps that a probate court must take if it determines that a person has died intestate. These laws also outline the portion of an estate that family members will receive if a court makes this decision.
Influencing a court concerning this decision is a common reason to contest a will. For example, a decedent’s will may specifically state that they want Child B to receive no portion of their estate. In this situation, Child B may want to contest the will because they believe they should get a portion of the assets. On the other side of this situation, the heirs listed in the will have an interest in seeing the court uphold the validity of the document. A Denver attorney could help parties determine if contesting a will is the right choice.
Once parties have decided that they wish to contest a will, the law places the burden on the petitioner to demonstrate why a court should take this action. There is a set group of reasons for why a probate court may invalidate a will. According to CO Rev. Stat. § 15-12-407, these reasons include:
In each of these situations, the parties contesting the will bear the burden of proving one of these factors. They may also submit an additional, different will that they contend reflects the testator’s true intent. A Denver lawyer could help parties on either side contest a will in court.
Determining the validity of a decedent’s will can have a profound impact on your legal rights. Upholding a will can ensure that you receive your just inheritance under the language of the document. Alternatively, invalidating a will can force the court to rely on the state’s intestacy laws and award assets to family members according to the law.
If you believe that a decedent’s will is invalid, or you wish to argue that a probate court should take a will at its face value, contact our office today. One of our Denver contested will lawyers could listen to your concerns, explain the relevant laws, and make the necessary arguments in court on your behalf.
Reynolds Gillette LLC