How Long Do You Have To Contest A Will (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 12 Years

A Will refers to a document written by a living person wherein the person states all his wishes and desires to be executed after the person dies. It is a legally recognized document that could contain information about the distribution of assets and possessions to specified persons mentioned in the Will.

The word contest refers to the act of disputing or challenging something. When something is contested, it is argued over or questioned. Thus, the Will contest is a formal objection raised against the validity of the Will.

A Will may be contested either in its entirety or in part. However, one cannot contest a Will anytime one’s wants. There is a specified time limit for contesting a Will within which if the Will is contested only then it would be considered valid and not otherwise.

How Long Do You Have To Contest A Will

How Long Do You Have To Contest A Will?

ConditionsDuration
Time limit to contest a Will for making claims against an estate12 years from the date of death
Time limit to contest a Will concerning inheritance6 months from the grant of probate

Through a Will, the intention of the testator is clearly and precisely communicated which can be then followed accordingly. Any individual who is over the age of eighteen years and is mentally sound and competent has a right to prepare a Will for the distribution of his assets and other belongings.

One can contest a Will on several grounds. One can state that the deceased was not mentally competent to make the Will, or he did not properly understand the meaning and intention behind it. One can also contest a will if it was made under undue influence and not by the person’s own free will.

Thus, if under any such circumstance, a Will does not depict the true and fair representation of the deceased person’s wishes and desires, it can be contested. However, before contesting one should have a proper basis for doing so. Also, a Will can be contested only after the death of the testator.

The validity of the Will can be challenged or contested before a court law if one believes that there is an inaccurate representation of the deceased person’s intention. However, the time limit to challenge a Will is only 12 years from the death of the testator. Once the period of 12 years has passed, the Will cannot be changed as it has become permanent.

Why Do You Have This Long To Contest A Will?

When one is contesting a Will, the reason behind it should be logical and valid as only then it would lead to a consensus. If the Will is contested otherwise, one would only be wasting a lot of time and money with no outcome. Thus, only based on reasonable grounds, one should challenge a Will.

Generally, an interested party i.e a person who thinks he was going to inherit property or any asset under the will but was left out could dispute that the Will is not valid. As the Will comes to light only after the death of the person who made it, one could not rectify or make any immediate modifications to it.

Many times, a Will might exclude persons who have previously assumed that they would be included or if they were told by the deceased person that they would be included but are not. In such cases, one should only contest the will if the probable financial gain will far outweigh the legal costs of challenging the Will.

One needs to ensure that a Will is to be contested before the probate is concluded. Probate can be defined as conclusive proof that the Will was executed validly, is entirely genuine, and is the last will of the deceased person. Thus, if one is unhappy with the Will, it is advisable to contest it as soon as possible, as contesting after probate can be costly and would require additional legal advice.

Conclusion

Will is nothing but a legal document depicting the wishes of the maker of the will that he desires to be fulfilled after his death. However, if any person has any objection related to the contents of the will, he can contest it if he presumes the will was made under coercion or evinces incorrect particulars, etc.

Generally, the duration to challenge a Will is 12 years from the date of death. However, one should not delay in contesting a will as it becomes difficult to bring a claim to effect if the estate assets have been distributed. Thus, it is important to act quickly if one intends to contest a Will successfully.

References

  1. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/glj45&section=23
  2. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/hastlj14&section=9

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