If you suddenly find out that you have been disinherited while the will is being read, it is natural for you to go into a state of shock. Many people discover that they have wrongfully been left out of the will which they they did not have any inkling of. And although unfortunate, but the court usually abides by the deceased individual’s wishes. This means you are left out of the list of inheritors. But then, there can be a few situations in which you can dispute disinheritance. Browse through the following to find out what they are:
How can you challenge the disinheritance?
- If you are the spouse
You might have a valid legal claim for your inheritance even if you are disinherited, if you happen to be the deceased’s spouse. In that case, you cannot be fully disinherited, but can claim one third or half of your spouse’s estate. This will generally depend on where you live. In case you are the deceased’s child, unless the will clearly disinherits you, most courts will hold your omission as a mistake, and would bestow a part of the estate on you.
- If you can prove the deceased was under influence
You can challenge the will on the ground that the deceased did not have the required mental capacity to create a will or was made to make it under undue influence, thus stating that the will would have been different had the deceased made it under normal circumstances. The will may, in fact, be declared invalid if you can prove either of these two premises in the court with the help of a wills and probate lawyer.
- If you can prove the will is invalid
A will is considered valid when it is in writing, signed and witnessed by at least two individuals. It should not use contradictory or vague language either. In case the court declares it invalid then the estate will be divided among the heirs in accordance with the law of the state.
- If the language of the will is not clear
The will has to be very clear about its instructions. In case the section disinheriting the concerned individual depends on a condition, the condition can be challenged. This may make the disinheritance invalid.
- There are laws that can question disinheritance
In spite of the belief that the will of the deceased is the last word, there are laws that can challenge the very same will. Although the court tries to honor the will of the deceased, there maybe certain circumstances in which public policy can be given the priority.
What if you find you are nowhere mentioned in the will?
If you cannot find your name mentioned in the will, it maybe because of the fact that it happened by mistake. This would not be regarded as the same thing as a mistake, and the court will think the deceased had wanted to give you something. But for this, you need to have a valid claim for becoming a heir to the deceased’s estate, and be either spouse or child to the deceased. This is also known as accidental disinheritance.
It is advisable to consult a good probate lawyer if you believe you have been wrongfully disinherited, so that an experienced attorney can understand the situation and advise you of your rights and actions you can take.