Contested Wills in Elkhart, Indiana

Find the right Contested Wills attorney in Elkhart, IN

In Elkhart, Indiana there are particular procedures permitting certain people to challenge the validity of a will. This is recognized as a "will contest" or "contested will."

Sometimes, when a person who expected to be included in a will is left out, their natural assumption is that there was some mistake, or that the will was made through improper means, such as duress or fraud, or that the will is an outright forgery.

If a lot of money, or some particularly valuable property, is at stake, the person who was left out might want to go to court and allege that the will was invalid. When left out of a will, a family member might naturally assume that some kind of mistake has been made, whether this is really true or not.

You should remember that a will contest commonly results in adversarial legal proceedings, which can be very contentious. Considering the likelihood that other members of your family might be on the other side, it's clear that this can really damage a person's relationship with his or her family.

When Can a Will be Contested in Elkhart, Indiana?

There are many reasons that a Elkhart, Indiana court might hold a will to be invalid.

One big reason to invalidate a will is the fact that the will was made under duress. "Duress" simply means forcing somebody to do something they don't want to, using some kind of threat. Normally, the threat involves some type of physical harm. The most obvious example would involve putting a gun to somebody's head and telling them to write a will containing the terms desired by the gunman. Such a will, assuming the underlying facts can be proven in court, will never be valid. Of course, the validity of a will rarely becomes an issue until the testator has died, which may be years after the will was drafted. This means that proving the circumstances under which the will was made can often be very difficult. However, there are certain facts, such as the devise being to an "unnatural" beneficiary (somebody the testator didn't know very well, for instance), and the beneficiary being in a position of power over the decedent, are enough to at least create a suspicion that something is wrong.

Another fact that might invalidate a will is the mental incompetence of the testator. Wills must be a product of a person's volition. A will cannot be honestly voluntary unless the testator knows what they're doing. Accordingly, if the testator is mentally incompetent at the time he or she makes the will, the will cannot take effect. You should be aware, however, that this test applies at the time the will is made. So, if the testator is not mentally competent at the time of death, but was when the will was made, the will is valid.

If you successfully contest the will in Elkhart, Indiana, the court will likely distribute the property as if the decedent had died without a will. This usually involves giving it to the closest living relative. While the exact intestacy schemes (the order in which property is distributed to relatives) vary from state to state, they are usually pretty similar. If possible, the property will go to the decedent's spouse, and if the decedent has any minor children with that spouse, it is with the understanding that the money will be used primarily for their care. If the decedent did not have children or a spouse (or outlived them), the property typically goes to the decedent's parents. If neither of them are alive, it goes to grand children, grandparents, or siblings. After that, it typically goes to cousins, nieces/nephews, step-children, former spouses, etc. Intestacy laws provide a line of succession long enough that just about anyone will leave at least one person behind who is entitled to inherit from them, even if they're an extremely distant relation. Sometimes, however, people make multiple wills, to account for the many personal and financial changes that normally happen during a person's life. Normally, the most recent will purports to revoke all past wills, to avoid any conflict between them. In such cases, if a will is entirely invalidated, a court can sometimes revive the second most recent will.

Can a Elkhart, Indiana Contested Will Attorney Help?

Contesting a will can be a difficult, emotional, expensive, and time-consuming process. There is really no way around this. However, a brilliant Elkhart, Indiana wills and estates attorney can minimize these problems, and make the process as painless as possible.

Talk to a Wills, Trusts and Estates Law Attorney now!

Life in Elkhart

Elkhart, Indiana is a city located in Elkhart County, just south of the Illinois border. As of the 2000 Census, it has a population of about 52,000 people. Until the early 1800s, the area now known as Elkhart was mainly populated by various American Indian tribes, including the Ottawa, Chippewa, and Potawatomi. In 1829, settlers established the village of Pulaski, which consisted of little more than a post office, a saw mill, and a few homes. Modernly, Elkhart, Indiana is known as a major center for a niche industry: the manufacture of musical instruments. Several such manufacturers have set up shop in Elkhart, and have, since the early 20th Century, made up a major portion of the city's industrial base. It is also home to a highly specialized sector of the auto industry - the manufacture of recreational vehicles (RVs). Sadly, because Elkhart, Indiana's industrial base was focused largely on the manufacture of luxury items (musical instruments, RVs, etc.), its economy was particularly hard-hit by the recent economic decline experienced by the U.S., along with most of the industrialized world. However, as the economy begins to look up, with manufacturing increasing, Elkhart, Indiana has plenty of reasons for hope. If you live in or near Elkhart, Indiana, and are facing a legal issue, chances are excellent that an Elkhart, Indiana lawyer can help. Elkhart, Indiana lawyers are experienced in many diverse areas of law. There is almost certainly an Elkhart, Indiana lawyer who can help you.

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