Estate Litigation Lawyer Serving Indianapolis and Surrounding Areas
A Last Will and Testament should accurately reflect a testator’s intentions for the distribution of his or her estate. If you are struggling to protect the wishes of a loved one who has passed, seeking legal advice from a probate and estate litigation attorney may be beneficial in evaluating your options. With 20 years of experience, Indianapolis will contest lawyer Michael J. Adler has the dedication necessary to represent the interests of Indiana residents who are involved in these matters. At Adler Law LLC, we understand that estate and probate disputes tend to involve sensitive family matters, and we provide knowledgeable and confidential guidance to our clients.
Grounds for Will Contests in Indiana
Once a will has been admitted to probate, it may be subject to claims contesting its validity. Anyone challenging a will must have standing to do so, meaning that the person must demonstrate that he or she will be harmed by the terms of the will at issue. Typically, this may include relatives, named beneficiaries, creditors, and others. Wills may be ruled invalid by a probate court for many reasons, although the most common grounds are based on procedural execution, lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, and fraud.
Procedural Grounds – Generally, an Indiana will must be signed by a testator who is at least 18 years old and of sound mind in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign the will. However, it is important to note that there may be exceptions for certain individuals, and the requirements are different for nuncupative (oral) wills. If the will was not executed according to Indiana law, it may be contested with the assistance of a will contest attorney in Indianapolis and found to be invalid.
Lack of Testamentary Capacity – A will must be executed when the testator is of sound mind and has testamentary capacity to make a will. This requires that the testator understands the nature and value of his or her property and wealth, the natural progression of that wealth to relatives and descendants, and the legal effect of executing a will disposing of such property. Significantly, the threshold for testamentary capacity is not high. Even if a testator suffers from a mentally degenerative illness, for example, a will may be executed during a lucid period in which the testator has testamentary capacity.
Undue Influence and Fraud – If another person exerted extreme control and pressure over the testator, such that the testator’s wishes were overcome by that person in creating the will, it may be grounds to invalidate the will. Generally, these claims involve situations in which the alleged influencer had a confidential relationship with the testator, the testator was mentally or physically weak so as to be susceptible to influence, and the influencer received most of the testator’s estate, or the will disposes of the testator’s property in a manner that is unexpected, such as by excluding family. An Indianapolis will contest attorney can help you bring this type of claim. A will procured by fraud can also be an independent basis for invalidating the will, such as when a testator is tricked into signing a document, unaware that it is a will.
Contact a Knowledgeable Will Contest Attorney
If you require professional legal advice regarding a will contest or probate dispute, Adler Law LLC has the resources to guide you through the process. Indianapolis lawyer Michael J. Adler represents individuals in a range of elder law and probate issues, including estate planning, administration, and litigation, Medicaid planning, trust creation, and more. As a member of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association, Mr. Adler possesses substantial courtroom experience as well as strong connections to the legal community. Adler Law LLC assists residents of Indianapolis, Westfield, Zionsville, Greenwood, Carmel, Fishers, and other communities in Marion, Hamilton, Boone, Johnson, and Vigo Counties. Call us at 317-635-7880 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with a will contest lawyer in the Indianapolis area.
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