What to Do when a Will’s Authenticity Is Disputed

What to Do when a Will’s Authenticity Is Disputed

We understand that a disputed will can be confusing and overwhelming, especially when you’re already dealing with the loss of someone close to you. That’s why we provide compassionate guidance through every step of the process—from determining whether or not a will is valid, to filing an appeal if necessary, to seeing your case through trial if it comes down to that.

At Kalicki Collier, we believe everyone deserves their fair share of an estate plan—even those who were left out. We’ll fight for what’s rightfully yours so that no one gets left behind again!


How Authenticity is Disputed

A will contest is a type of petition that is filed as part of a court proceeding in which the validity of a decedent’s will is brought under scrutiny. In Nevada, the Attorney General or any interested person may contest the will by filing written grounds of opposition to the probate thereof at any time prior to the hearing of the petition for probate.

 

The Legal Justification for Dispute 

The most common reasons why a will is disputed are undue influence, lack of capacity, elder abuse, fraud, forgery, lack of due execution, mistake, and revocation.

Undue influence occurs when the person making the will does not have full mental capacity and is persuaded by another person to create a will in favor of that other person. For example, an elderly woman may be taken advantage of by family members or caregivers who convince her to change her will so that they can inherit her property.

Lack of capacity means that the person making the will was not mentally competent at the time. A lack of capacity can be caused by physical illness or mental illness (e.g., dementia). Elder abuse occurs when older adults are abused physically or financially by those who are supposed to care for them (e.g., family members). Elder abuse can also occur when an older adult is coerced into signing over assets to another person or group of people without receiving any benefit in return. 

Fraud involves deceiving someone into doing something they would not normally do, like changing or executing a will. Forgery, a form of fraud, involves the replication of someone’s signature in order to create a legally enforceable document. Beneficiaries can contest a will on the grounds of Lack of Due Execution if an individual did not sign a will in front of two witnesses and did not sign it in their own hand. They may also contest on the grounds that a mistake was made in the will or if they have reason to believe the original testator revoked their will after signing. 

 

The Nevada Dispute Process 

If you are contesting a will in Nevada, you must have the standing to do so. This means that your case must prove that the will was not properly signed and witnessed, the testator lacked mental capacity, or there was coercion involved.

The window of time to dispute a will begins as soon as you receive notice of probate, which is usually 30 days after death but may be less if there is already an executor named on file with the county clerk. From the notice of probate, you have three months to file a petition disputing the will. The dispute must be filed in the county where the deceased passed. Once a will is contested, the probate court will probably appoint somebody to act as a “Special Administrator” to administer the estate.

If you’re considering contesting a will, there are several important things to keep in mind:

First, remember that the probate process can be lengthy—and it may get even longer if you decide to dispute the will. This means that any assets or property being passed on to you may be held up for some time while the court sorts out whether or not your argument has merit.

Second, if you are disinherited from an estate because of a contested will, it’s possible that other beneficiaries may try to appeal the decision in their favor. This could lead to a lot of additional legal costs and delays.

Finally, if you win your challenge and are granted what was initially intended for them under the will, other beneficiaries may be upset with you for having taken this action against them.

 

Defining Valid and Invalid Wills According to Nevada State Law

To be valid under Nevada law, a will must be in writing, signed by the testator, and signed and witnessed by two competent witnesses.

The court will go through an investigation to determine it was signed by the testator and that it was signed in front of two witnesses—this step can be avoided by notarizing the will. Lawyers can help gather supporting documents and evidence, but ultimately it’s up to the courts to decide what qualifies as acceptable evidence.

 

Dealing with the Emotions that Come with a Contested Will

Contesting a will can be an emotionally-draining experience. While it’s true that you’re entitled to contest the will if you feel it was made unfairly, the process itself can be stressful and may even cause some negative emotions.

The emotions that come with contesting a will can be difficult to navigate. The process is emotionally draining, especially if you’re not sure if you’re doing it right. You may feel angry during this process, and that’s okay! You have every right to be angry. Losing a loved one is hard, and coming to terms with an unfair inheritance is often salt in the wound. Being excluded from a will (or receiving less than you anticipated) can also result in feelings of frustration, abandonment, and insecurity. However, it’s important that you don’t let those feelings get in the way of making decisions about your future.

Other negative emotions that come with contesting a will include guilt, shame, and resentment toward yourself or other family members who may not support your decision to contest it. You may even find yourself on the receiving end of these feelings as the person who chose to contest the will, as those who are benefitting from a potentially fraudulent document will likely resist change. 

Ultimately, the probate process is a lengthy and complicated one that is often full of confusing and overwhelming emotions. 

 

Working with the Right People

Contesting a will is a confusing and stressful process. It is important to have the right probate attorney by your side while you do so because they can help you understand the legal process and make sure that you are being treated fairly.

Your probate attorney will help you file the necessary paperwork with the court, which will include a petition for probate and administration. They will also be responsible for gathering all of the necessary documents related to your case and providing them to the court.

Your attorney can also help you understand how long it might take for your case to be heard by the judge and what kind of evidence needs to be presented for them to rule in your favor. You might need medical records or financial documents from other family members who may not want them released publicly during court proceedings.

When it comes time for trial, which could happen months after filing papers with the court, depending on how busy they are at any given moment in time, your attorney will go over everything with you again before presenting arguments on your behalf. Finally, they will inform you of your options once a verdict has been reached.


If you’re in need of a Reno probate law firm to help you contest a will, Kalicki Collier is the one. We have the knowledge and experience to handle your case with professionalism and care, and we’ll always be honest with you about your options. We’re here to help you sort out the legal matters surrounding your situation so that you can move forward with your life.

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