Experiencing a death in your family is tragic. It feels like your life stops and everything is a mess. The death of a parent, spouse, children, sibling, or any other relative may leave us feeling empty. Even though it’s from illness or an accident, it still impacts us very painfully. We are never going to be prepared for death, after losing someone, there will be questions and lingering sadness forever.
Another huge issue after someone’s death is their will. There will be plenty of discussion and things to be done afterwards. However, being left out of a will is also a hard situation to be in. There are plenty of circumstances that when a person dies the reading of the will can be a cause of commotion with everyone left behind. It’s an issue of people expected to be included in the will are excluded, someone who got told that they will be included but not or worst-case scenario is, someone altered the will last minute.
If you have been left out of a will by a relative, there are some urgent steps that you should do to help yourself understand what happened — or oppose it. It can either be a long process or a short one. Take a look at this article to see what you can do if you are undergoing this stressful situation.
Get a copy of the will
The will or testament is a legal paper that states someone’s wishes to make sure that their money and properties will be distributed to the people that they want to give it to. Anyone is entitled to their own will, and they have the final decision in who is and isn’t included in the will. If you think that the will has changed under stress, coercion, or diminished mental capacity then you can uncover the truth. Talk to the executor of the current will if they are past versions of the will.
The executor keeps track of the previous wills and will take note of any substantial changes. You can confirm with the executor when and how you are removed from the will. Usually, wills will enter probate, a legal process that reviews if it’s valid and authentic. The rules vary from every state so it’s better to talk to legal help to help you obtain the file as soon as possible.
Weigh up the cost and your options
Before you talk and pay a lawyer for the professional service, weigh your options and think thoroughly if you want to push through with it. Think if you have a chance to be in the will, or are you close to the owner of the will. If you are not legally a family member or not in the previous will, then you have no standing to oppose the will. If the owner of the will talk to you about including you in it, then write down all of the details and gather all the proof. If you don’t have any idea how much you are about to receive, then think about the estimate of how much it will be based on your insight into the person’s money and estate.
If what you are going to receive is not sufficient to pay for the lawyer and all of the expenses, then stop. Although it is going to be more than the expenses, letting go may still be the best option since it will be a long process and may cause a lot in terms of legal fees. So weigh the cost and think about it before you sign yourself up to the process.
Check if going through the legal process is winnable and beneficial for you. Not being included in the will is very painful but to waste time, funds, and being under stress is much more terrible.
Contest the will
If you had a copy of the will and already decided for a legal process then it’s time to have your lawyer check your grounds. You must get a lawyer who is knowledgeable about these cases. If you have grounds, then your lawyer can help you file a contest. To contest a will it should be either its invalid, can be under broken promise claims, there is a lack of capacity of the person making the will, there is a lack of knowledge and approval, undue influence or forgery. The purpose of this legal process is to nullify the current will and carry out a previous will that includes you as a beneficiary. If you are not in the previous will or not in the most recent one then your chances are lower.
Take appropriate legal advice
You need a lawyer to help you win the legal fight. Tell the lawyer your intention and show them the will. Your reasons should be eligible and you should try to tell a clear and comprehensive summary of your situation. Your reasons should be valid, correct, and precise.
It should be reasonable and should make sense. Your lawyer should know all the details for him to help you win the legal battle. Be honest and don’t lie because your lawyer would be on your side. If you don’t understand legal terms ask them to clarify so you’ll understand everything properly.
Instead of an inheritance dispute that could well lead to a drawn-out court battle costing a lot of money, time, and energy, your lawyer can help you do mediation with everyone involved. Mediation can be the best choice in getting a resolution than a tiring legal battle. Lawyers can help talk to both sides and the other lawyers of what other option can two parties settle on.
The important thing to know right from the start is, if you are left out of a will and planning to oppose it you should be ready to go through a long legal process to get your claims. However, you have to make sure that it will be beneficial to you and will not make everything worse for you. Not only in financial gain but all the aspects you can think of like emotional stress. You can always talk to your lawyer about how rational and sensible your chances are.