Will Contests in Virginia
Sometimes a family member or interested party of a person who has passed away must file a complaint to contest a will. Will contests are complex legal proceedings with strict statutory requirements, definitions of an interested party, and legal grounds.
Contact our team at the Commonwealth Life and Legacy Counsel law firm in Zion Crossroads (Central Virginia) at 434-589-2958 or in or near Powhatan at 804-598-1348 for a free consultation about contesting a will.
Validity of a Will in Virginia
What can you include in a will, and what makes it a valid and binding legal document? A will can include terms for debt repayment, allocation of remaining assets, property distribution to heirs, and instructions about how to run a business.
The will also names legal heirs as well as an executor, who will carry out the instructions in the will when the decedent passes away.
What makes a will valid? The person creating the will must:
- Be over 18 years of age
- Be of sound mind
- Know the family members who are to receive assets from the will
- Know the assets they own and their value
- Create the will in good faith without pressure, fraud, or undue influence of others
- Sign and date the will as witnessed by two or more people
Grounds to Contest a Will
An interested party may file a complaint if they believe they are entitled to receive some portion of an inheritance and are not included in the will by some oversight by the testator. Other possible grounds for will contests include:
- Invalidity of the will by creating the will under duress
- Lack of testamentary capacity by the testator
- Invalidity of the will by statutory requirements
- Undue influence over the testator
Proving undue influence or lack of testamentary capacity can be a difficult process. You often must prove that there was a prior will that outlined the decedent’s original plans, that a person with undue influence played a significant role in the creation of the will, or that the testator had a compromised mental condition that affected their ability to make decisions.
How To Contest a Will in Virginia
An interested party may file a complaint to contest a will. In Virginia law, an interested party is not just a family member, but must be someone who has an established relationship with the decedent and has a financial need. It could also be someone who would qualify under the laws of intestacy as entitled to receive estate assets if the will is invalid.
Additionally, the complaint must be filed within the the statute of limitations under Virginia law, which is one year from the date the will was admitted to probate. Because will contests are complex, having help from an experienced will contests attorney can make the process much easier.
Contact Our Central Virginia Law Firm for Experienced Legal Help with Will Contests
The Commonwealth Life and Legacy Counsel law firm understands the intricacies of will contests. Call us at the Commonwealth Life and Legacy Counsel firm in Troy, Virginia (Zion Crossroads), at 434-589-2958 or in Powhatan at 804-598-1348. Alternatively, fill out the contact form to schedule a free consultation.