In Acton, Massachusetts there are specific procedures authorizing certain people to challenge the validity of a will. This is identified as a "will contest" or "contested will."

Occasionally, testators leave out of their wills people who might naturally expect to inherit a substantial portion of the testator's estate (spouses and children, for instance). This might lead them to assume, truthfully or not, that the will was some kind of mistake.

If there is a considerable amount of money or property at stake, a family member who was left out of the will might find it to be worth the time or money to contest it.

Like any legal matter, however, this should not be taken lightly. Will contests can foster conflict and strife within families who are already mourning a loved one. This can cause grave and irreversible damage to family relationships.

When Can a Will be Contested in Acton, Massachusetts?

Of course, a Acton, Massachusetts court will not invalidate a will without a very good reason, but there are some cases which render a will clearly invalid.

For instance, if the will was obtained through duress (threat of some kind of harm), then it is invalid. Duress, however, is difficult to prove. If a named beneficiary was in some position of power or trust with the decedent, and is not someone who one would ordinarily expect to get a large gift in a will, that might raise substantial initial suspicion of something improper happening. Of course, those facts alone are not nearly enough to prove duress.

Another thing to consider is the mental capacity of the person making the will. If, at the time the will was made, the testator was insane or heavily intoxicated, the will is likely to be held invalid by a court, if the underlying facts can be shown.

If a Acton, Massachusetts will is successfully challenged and thus invalidated, there has to be some system for orderly distribution of the decedent's property. Typically, if a will is held invalid, all of the property will be treated as if the decedent had never written or will. This means that it goes to the decedent's closest living relative, or, if there are not relatives who can be located, the state.

Can a Acton, Massachusetts Contested Will Attorney Help?

Because a will contest can sometimes involve perplexing legal and factual questions, as well as some very raw emotions, a skilled Acton, Massachusetts attorney can be invaluable in helping this process go as smoothly as possible.