When a family member or loved one passes away, the decision to challenge that person’s will is not an easy one. In the midst of profound grief and loss, complicated paperwork and emotional legal disputes are the last things you want. However, if you have concerns that your loved one’s will may be invalid or unfair, contesting that will is likely the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, challenging a will can be a difficult and drawn-out process. Additionally, there are many legal restrictions and important deadlines you must observe. So it’s in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable Peoria will contest lawyer as soon as possible.
At Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, our attorneys have nearly five decades of combined experience helping people with complex estate litigation matters. We are here to review your case for free and offer the sound legal advice you need. To learn more about your next steps, call us today.
Who Has the Right to Contest a Will?
In Arizona, only “interested parties” have the legal right to challenge a will. These interested parties may be different depending on the contents and nature of the will in question. For example, if the deceased left no formal or valid will, the court may determine that the person died “intestate.” The court will then have the authority to decide who can or cannot inherit the assets of the deceased.
In most cases, interested parties include:
- Living spouses
- Minor or adult children, whether biological or adopted
- Other beneficiaries named in a valid will
- Creditors of the estate of the deceased
- Individuals legally eligible to inherit based on intestate succession laws
To learn about your legal right to contest a will, contact us now and schedule a free consultation.
Can You Contest a Will Without a Lawyer?
It’s technically possible to contest a will without a lawyer. However, most people who try will have a difficult and frustrating experience. When you contest a will, you challenge the terms or validity of the will in probate court. The final wishes of the deceased hold a lot of weight, and the burden of proof is on the individual contesting a will. So even strong challenges face an uphill battle.
A dedicated Peoria will contest lawyer can help you:
- Understand whether you have legal standing to contest a will
- Obtain copies of current and previous wills
- Determine the potential value of your claim
- File a contest petition in probate court
- Investigate and present evidence to support your claim
- Communicate with other parties on your behalf
- Negotiate for a fair settlement
- Represent your best interests in trial, mediation, and court proceedings
How Long Do You Have to Contest a Will in Arizona?
The majority of objections are filed before or in the middle of the probate process. Probate is the official process of validating a will and executor in court before assets can be distributed. Generally speaking, executors must file for probate within two years of a will-maker’s death. Any interested parties who wish to challenge the will should also file objections during that time.
If probate proceedings have already begun, you typically have four months to file contests in court. After those four months, the court will usually enter an order to have probate proceed informally, which involves less court supervision and fewer expenses than formal probate. If you file a successful objection during informal probate, the court will freeze the process and begin formal probate proceedings.
During formal probate, individuals who seek to challenge a will have the chance to voice their concerns and submit proof to the court. This process may take as long as two years. After formal probate proceedings have closed, you may still have the option to file challenges within a year of the court’s decision or two years of your loved one’s death, whichever comes first.
How Much Does It Cost to Contest a Will in Arizona?
There is no way to estimate the costs you may incur without evaluating the details of your specific situation. The cost will depend heavily on how complex your case is and how long it takes to resolve in court. ConsumerReports.org conservatively estimates that the average will contest is likely to cost between $10,000 and $50,000. However, a knowledgeable estate lawyer can give you a better idea of what to expect in your case and help you weigh the pros and cons.
What Are the Common Reasons for Contesting a Will?
Some of the most common reasons for contesting a will include:
- Legal heirs were disinherited or otherwise excluded.
- Alternate or superseding versions of a will exist.
- A will-maker was not legally or mentally capable.
- There was possible fraud, forgery, or undue influence.
- A will was not prepared, signed, or witnessed properly.
Contact Our Will Contest Lawyer in Peoria for Help Today
If you believe you may have grounds to challenge a will, contact the Peoria will contest lawyers of Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC today. We understand that this is a difficult time for you, and it’s our mission to do all we can to pursue the rightful inheritance you deserve. We have decades of experience fighting for the rights of Arizona residents in and out of probate court. So when you hire us, you are in good hands.
Contact us now to get answers to all your questions in a free case review.