Thomas McCutcheon

A Will is a written statement made by a living person making a division of their property after death. When a husband leaves everything to his wife and upon her death, to the children, share and share alike, there are generally no issues.

But, life being what it is, there generally are issues. Sometimes the wife remarries and passes away shortly thereafter. What happens to the children’s inheritance then? Does the new husband receive what the children’s father worked to accumulate? What happens when one child takes care of a parent and the other children don’t? Is share and share alike fair under that circumstance?

Where we really see problems are Wills that are made shortly before death that favor a person who wouldn’t otherwise be favored. Occasionally, we see other issues such as homemade Wills that just aren’t legally valid and sometimes we see people who don’t understand they have to probate a Will before they can sell the assets of the estate and keep the money.

A Will can be contested by anyone who is an heir at law or has an interest in the estate. Valid reasons for contesting a Will include a Will that was made by a person who is not mentally competent. In those cases, a treating physician who is familiar with the mental and medical condition of the person making the Will would have important evidence a jury would consider. The medications a person was taking when they made a Will would be important. A Will made by a decedent who was threatened or put in fear could be set aside for undue influence.

The most important thing to know is that will contests are subject to a statute of limitations that is different from other kinds of cases. Will contests in Alabama must be filed within six months of the Will being admitted to probate. There are several recent cases where contests were not properly filed or not timely filed. If anyone has reason to believe that something just isn’t right with a Will, contact an attorney promptly because once it is admitted to probate, the clock is ticking.

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