It is the highlight of many a soap opera: the disinherited evil relative screams about contesting the will and storming out of the library amidst the stunned consternation of all the other people in the room. But in real life, most wills (about 99%) go through probate court with hardly a flutter, and everyone goes home more or less satisfied.
Of course, there is still that 1% that will be contested, and there are usually quite good reasons for it. There had better be, as contesting a will is typically a complicated and expensive undertaking, and not to be decided on without due consideration.
There are several reasons for contesting a will. One is age. While most states have their own estate laws in place, in general, a will has to be executed on behalf of an individual who is 18 years or older (some states make an exception for emancipated minors i.e. married).
Another reason is mental capacity. In most cases, state law only requires that the individual making the will is aware of what a will is, what assets can be distributed and to whom, and aware of normal obligations to family members. Unless the individual is obviously not of sound mind even to the average person, it can be pretty hard to contest a will under this reason. This is one of the main reasons why two adult witnesses are usually required, to attest to the behavior or the state of mind of the individual upon making the will.
A popular plot twist in many dramas is the famous “undue influence.” It could be an evil stepmother, unscrupulous caregiver, or a favored psychic. As mentioned in an article on the website of Attorney Peyman Momeni. in Houston, inheritance laws can be highly complex and proving undue influence can be difficult without the help of a shrewd lawyer experienced in these matters.
If you are unsatisfied with the conditions of a will that directly affects you, you should consult with an inheritance rights attorney without delay. Once a will passes through probate, it will be too late to do anything about it.