When people die and leave a will establishing how they want their assets distributed, there are sometimes heirs and other people who thought they would be included as beneficiaries and who are surprised to learn they were left out of the will, or that the will did not say what they thought it would say. They may also claim the decedent promised them money or an item that is not listed in the will. At Posey Legal, P.C., we assist those who need to contest the terms of the will. We also defend a will when it is met with challenges.
According to Oregon law, “Any interested person may contest the probate of the will or the validity of the will or assert an interest in the estate.” An interested person includes heirs, devisees, children, spouses, creditors and any others having a property right or claim against the estate of a decedent that may be affected by the proceeding.
Grounds for Contesting a Will
There are three grounds set forth in Oregon for contesting a will:
- The will is ineffective. A challenge that the will is ineffective may be made on several separate grounds including that:
- The will was written under duress.
- The testator was mentally incompetent and not of sound mind.
- The testator was unduly pressured or influenced to sign the will.
- There was fraud and mistake in the drafting and signing of the will.
You must present proof to back up your claim. Search for proof of any medically debilitating illness. Obtain a statement from the testator’s physician including the date, time, and diagnosis of any condition that affected the mental competence of the testator at the time of the signing of the will.
Locate and get statements from witnesses who know the will was written under duress or undue pressure.
- There is another will. The contest is that there is another, more recent, will that needs to be submitted to the probate court. You must locate the other will. Check every place the testator kept important papers. Talk to witnesses who may also know about the other will.
- The testator made promises not mentioned in the will. This is a very difficult challenge. The testator can leave their property to anyone they choose. You must prove that the will is ineffective in order to prevail on this claim. One way to do this is to compare a previous will with the current one. Was there a gift to someone that is different that would be expected based on what the testator’s previous wishes were? Is there any suspicious circumstance that amounts to undue influence?
Why You Need an Attorney
Oregon law has strict provisions for how much time you have to challenge a will. The court where your petition to contest the will is filed depends on the grounds you are using to challenge the will.
Contact us at Posey Legal, P.C. for more information on how to contest a will. We will schedule a consultation appointment.