When someone passes away in Indiana, the distribution of their assets can create conflict between family members. If there is a will or trust in place, it is meant to provide clear instructions for the distribution of assets. However, when the validity or interpretation of the will or trust is contested, it can lead to a lengthy and costly legal process.
Reasons for contesting a will or trust
Contested wills and trusts refer to legal disputes where the validity, interpretation or implementation of a will or trust is challenged by one or more parties. This can happen for various reasons, such as suspicion of fraud or undue influence, unclear or conflicting instructions or a dispute over the intended beneficiaries.
How to contest a will or trust
With contested wills and trusts, the challenging party must have legal standing, meaning they must be a beneficiary or potential beneficiary of the estate. The legal process typically involves filing a petition with the court and presenting evidence to support their claim.
In cases of contested wills, the court may invalidate the entire will or certain provisions of it if they find it to be invalid or that it was created under duress, fraud, or lack of capacity. In some cases, the court may order that a new will be created that accurately reflects the deceased’s wishes.
In contested trusts, the court may appoint a trustee to manage the trust until the dispute is resolved, or they may order the trust to be dissolved and the assets distributed according to state law.
Effects of contesting a will or trust
Contested wills and trusts can cause significant emotional stress and financial burden on the parties involved. The legal process can be lengthy, and legal fees can quickly add up. In addition, the dispute can strain family relationships, as family members take opposing sides in the legal battle.
To minimize the risk of a contested will or trust, it is important to ensure that the documents are created so that the deceased’s intentions are clearly and unambiguously stated. It may also be helpful to communicate openly with family members about the contents of the will or trust to reduce the risk of surprises and misunderstandings after the person passes away.
Safeguarding your interests
Contested wills and trusts can be a complex and emotionally charged issue. If you suspect that a will or trust may be contested, it is important to navigate the legal process carefully and protect your interests.