Will Contests Lawyers in Clarksville Representing Your Interests in Probate Court
Losing a loved one is never easy, and it can be even more challenging to learn that they have changed their will at the last period of their life, cutting out family members they loved. This situation can be complicated and emotional, especially if you suspect that your loved one lacked the capacity to make such a decision, or if they were wrongfully influenced by someone to change their will. For residents of Clarksville, Tennessee, navigating will contests can be especially trying, and challenging a will can be a complicated and stressful process. We understand how difficult and overwhelming this situation can be, and we are here to provide you with the guidance and support you need during this challenging time.
Who Can Challenge a Will in Tennessee?
In considering whether to contest a will, the following individuals have the ability to contest a will. When reading through the list below, understand that non-relatives and non-heirs have no ability to contest the will unless they fall into one of the following categories.
Beneficiary of a Will
A beneficiary is an individual named in the will to receive a portion of the estate. If you are named as a beneficiary, you have legal standing to contest the will. As a beneficiary, you can argue that the will was not executed correctly, whether that’s because the deceased lacked mental capacity, or the will was the result of fraud or undue influence. It’s essential to have strong evidence to support your case, and an experienced probate attorney can help you gather the necessary evidence.
Heir at Law
If you are not named as a beneficiary in the will, but you are the next of kin of the deceased, you may have standing to contest the will as an heir at law. In Tennessee, the heirs at law are typically the spouse, children, or parents of the deceased. If you are an heir at law and you feel that you have been unfairly excluded from the will, you may have the right to challenge the validity of the will.
Beneficiary of a Previous Will
If you were named as a beneficiary in a previous will that was superseded by the current will, you likely have legal standing to contest the will. You may be able to argue that the current will is invalid.
What is the Time Limit on Will Contests?
If you believe that you may need to contest a will or even a trust, it’s crucial to understand the legal timeframe for doing so in Tennessee. The statute of limitations for filing a will or trust contest claim is 2 years. This means that you must file your claim within 2 years of the will entering probate or receiving notification of administration from the trustee of the trust.
Dealing with the loss of a loved one is always difficult, and the thought of contesting a will or trust may perhaps not be a top priority. However, if you believe that the will or trust is not valid due to lack of capacity, undue influence, fraud, or some other reason, it’s important to consult with an experienced estate attorney in Clarksville as soon as possible.
Time is of the essence in these matters, as it can take significant effort to gather evidence and prepare a strong case. The sooner you work with an attorney, the more time you’ll have to build your case and pursue the outcome you desire. At Crow Estate Planning & Probate, we have the expertise and compassion necessary to guide you through the challenging process of will contests.
What is the Process of Contesting a Will in Tennessee?
The first step in challenging a will is to file a complaint with the probate court. In some counties, this may be the Chancery Court or Probate Court. This complaint should set forth the reasons why you believe the will is invalid or unfair, such as the testator lacked the capacity to make a valid will, the will was executed under undue influence, or there was some other type of fraud or mistake involved. Once the complaint is filed, the court will hold a hearing to certify the will challenge.
If the will challenge is certified, the court will then decide what Court will hear the case. This decision will depend on the complexity of the case, whether it will be a jury trial, and other administrative reasons. In any court, the litigation process will likely be lengthy and complex.
Discovery is the next step in the process. This involves gathering evidence and information from both sides. You may need to provide documents, answer written questions, and participate in depositions. Your attorney will help you prepare for this process and protect your interests.
Mediation is also generally required for resolving a will challenge. In mediation, a neutral third party will work with you and the other side to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. If mediation is successful, the case can be resolved without going to trial.
If mediation is not successful, the case will proceed to trial. Your attorney will represent you in court and present evidence and arguments in support of your position. The judge or jury will then decide the case based on the evidence presented.
The Importance of Consulting an Estate Attorney for Will Contests
An experienced estate attorney has in-depth knowledge of wills, trusts, and estate-related matters. If you’re considering contesting a will, a qualified attorney can review the details of your case, including the documents and reasons you believe warrant a contest, and advise you on the merits of filing your claim. Additionally, they can explain the potential outcomes if you win or lose so that you’re prepared for your next steps.
If someone is contesting a will or trust that names you as the beneficiary, an attorney can help you defend your inheritance and provide a compelling argument for upholding the deceased’s wishes.
While coping with the loss of a loved one, you shouldn’t have to bear the additional burden of an estate contest. Our team of experienced attorneys at Crow Estate Planning & Probate in Clarksville is here to help you navigate these legal matters and represent your best interests. Contact us at 931-218-7800 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about will contests or any of our other services.