If you suspect that a deceased person’s will should be declared invalid, it may be possible to file a legal challenge. However, a New Hampshire court can only consider your challenge if you have standing to make such a challenge. Generally speaking, only those who were included in a former will or are considered to be heirs-at-law have the ability to dispute the terms of such a document.
Who is a disinherited heir-at-law?
A heir-at-law is someone who had a close relationship with the decedent in question and who would have likely inherited a portion of that person’s property if they had died intestate. For instance, an adult child who wasn’t included a parent’s will might be able to file a lawsuit to claim a portion of that parent’s estate.
There needs to be a reason to have a will invalidated
Simply contesting a will does not guarantee that the document will be thrown out by a judge. Anyone who files a legal challenge will need to show evidence that he or she was excluded from a will unintentionally. For instance, you might be able to use a decedent’s medical records to prove that this individual was not of sound mind when his or her will was altered.
The will itself might prohibit you from contesting its terms
It isn’t uncommon for individuals to include language in a will forbidding beneficiaries from contesting its terms in court. Typically, those who violate such a term will automatically forfeit any money or assets that they were set to receive from their deceased family member. However, not all states will honor these clauses, and you may have little to lose if you have already been cut out of a parent or grandparent’s will.
Working with an estate planning attorney may make it easier to craft a will that holds up to a legal challenge. An attorney might also help you review your will every so often to ensure that it meets your needs and complies with state law.