No one looks forward to contesting a will after a loved one has passed on, but there may come a time when it is necessary to do so. If you are expecting an inheritance from a deceased family member, but then find you are not mentioned in the will, it can be shocking and confusing. What legal actions are you allowed to take? Where can you turn to make sure your voice is heard? What will you need to prove your case?
We at the Law Offices of Rusty Williard want to make sure that you find answers to all of these questions and more. Estate law can be confusing, and the rules are very specific. That’s why we recommend talking with us to make sure you match all the criteria for contesting a will.
What Qualifies as a Will?
Mississippi law requires all lawful wills to be created by a person who is at least 18 years of age, with sound and disposing mind, who also intends for the document to be their will. This means any promises of bequeathments made in letters or notes do not qualify.
Who Can Contest a Will?
Anyone who may gain property by contesting, or anyone mentioned in a previous iteration of the will. The short answer is anyone with a reasonable claim to the property of the deceased.
What are the Grounds for Contesting a Will?
There are 4 legal grounds for contesting a will in the State of Mississippi, they are:
- Fraud: The deceased person (in this case referred to as the “testator”) was unaware of what they were signing, or the will was manipulated afterward. This does not happen very often and is difficult to prove, but it is possible.
- Lack of Mental Capacity: If it can be proven that the testator was not of sound and disposing mind at the time of signing, then the will can be contested.
- Undue Influence: Sadly, elder abuse is a common occurrence in our society. If an elderly person was coerced into changing their will via harassment or abuse, the will can be contested.
- Unsigned or Unwitnessed: The will must be either entirely handwritten by the testator and signed, or signed in the presence of two witnesses. The witnesses must then sign that they observed the signing of the will. If the will does not meet these requirements, it can be contested.
It’s worth your time and money to consult a qualified estate planning attorney in Mississippi to create a well-rounded will that adheres to all state laws and requirements. The Law Offices of Rusty Williard is well-versed in this and is here to help. Call (601) 824-9797 to learn more.