Minnesota Contested Estate Law

The purpose of a will or trust is to distribute your valuable assets according to your wishes in a sensitive, humane, and orderly fashion, and in a way that minimizes resentment and jealousy among family members.  But even in cases where there is a Will or a Trust in place, the family members of a decedent often disagree about who will get what. Feelings can be hurt by being left out of a Will for whatever personal reasons the decedent had, or feelings by the heir that they are not getting their fair share.

To challenge a will, you must have a specific legal reason. It is insufficient merely to state that you believe you are entitled to a larger share of the estate.

Grounds for Contesting a Will or Trust

In addition to having legal standing, you must have evidence of impropriety surrounding the will or trust.

The most common grounds for contesting a will or trust are:

1) Lack of capacity. If you feel that the testator, deceased person, was not of “sound mind” at the time the Will or Trust was executed, this would be grounds for contesting a Will or Trust.

2) Undue influence by another. Undue influence is the allegation that the deceased was pressured into signing the will or trust by a person who benefits under the will or trust. Examples of undue influence may include the use of threats or withheld medications.

3) Fraud. A will may be invalid if the person making the will or trust relied on a false statement or fraudulent misrepresentation. An example of fraud is where the testator signs a document not knowing that it is a will.

4) The existence of a more recent will. A will can be contested on the grounds that it is not the most current will, or that it does not revoke part of an older will that should remain in force.

5) The will was not witnessed or signed properly. An improperly witnessed or signed will or trust is also grounds for invalidating the document. If a will contest is brought alleging that the will was not witnessed by the required number of individuals or that the signatures of the witnesses have been falsified, the courts can require the witnesses to appear to verify their participation or signatures.

6) Ambiguous language in will or trust. In instances where the language of the will or trust is unclear or confusing and there is a dispute between beneficiaries about the meaning of the document, a petition to the probate court requesting interpretation of the language will or trust and intent of the testator or grantor can be filed. Language is considered ambiguous if two or more meanings can be applied. Once the court has ruled that the language is ambiguous, it will distribute the estate based on its interpretation of the intent of the will or trust.

If you feel that you did not receive the share of an estate that the deceased intended, or that a will does not accurately reflect the true wishes of the decedent, you may have a right to contest that person’s will or trust.

If you are in a situation where you are dealing with a contested Will or Trust, you will need the assistance of a professional probate attorney to help you navigate the Probate Court system and the laws that are applied in such instances.

Your estate plan is an expression of who you are and what you value. Your attorney must translate your personal decisions into legal documents that will stand up to challenges and make your decisions reality when the time comes for your estate to be passed on to your heirs.   This cannot be done if your attorney has not taken the time to get to know you.

The attorneys of Your Family Guardian Law Firm are respected estate administration attorneys in Minnesota.  They have a reputation for bringing contested estate cases to a satisfactory and timely conclusion. Talk to us.

At Your Family Guardian Law Firm, our lawyers provide a full range of estate planning, probate administration and contested estate litigation services to clients in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.  Our practice includes the drafting of wills and codicil, the preparation and establishment of both revocable and irrevocable trusts, asset protection, management of estate tax considerations, and a great deal more.

In all cases, whether we are simply revising a will for one of our clients or representing the legitimate heirs in litigation, building long-term relationships with our clients is critical to our practice and critical to effective estate planning as well.

For assistance, contact an experienced Minnesota litigation lawyer at Your Family Guardian Law Firm law firm.  We represent clients throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area including Edina, Plymouth, Bloomington, and St. Louis Park, Minnesota.  Contact us at 612-604-5146.