Will Contests – Protect Your Inheritance (and That of your Family)
Serving clients in Braintree, Quincy, Boston, Hingham, including Suffolk, Norfolk, Plymouth, Barnstable, Essex, and Middlesex counties, and throughout Massachusetts
The death of a loved one can be traumatic. Unfortunately, often times the tragedy of a loved one’s death is compounded by the wrongful actions of others trying to undo a deceased loved one’s intentions for asset distribution.
As a Braintree will contest lawyer, I can help.
With years of experience, I focus on seeking the best outcome for clients. As a former Assistant District Attorney in the Norfolk County District Attorney’s Office and the Middlesex County District Attorney’s Office, I handled numerous high-profile criminal cases, and I have built my career on successfully representing litigants.
Will Contest Scenarios
Although sometimes will contests may arise through the intentional wrongful actions of others who may be inheriting under a will, many times a dispute may arise because the will itself is vague or the testator may have expressed certain wishes in his or her life, that are not reflected in a will.
In these situations, I will work to achieve the best outcome for my clients. I can explain to clients the available options so that they can make informed decisions.
Grounds for Challenging a Will in Massachusetts
While will contest cases may arise from legitimate disagreements and issues, there are some cases that may involve more serious factors including whether the will itself is valid, or whether those claiming to be entitled to inherit have engaged in wrongful actions in order to gain assets to which they otherwise would not be entitled. I represent clients seeking to gain or preserve their rightful inheritance.
It is important to know that in Massachusetts, there are a number of grounds for challenging a will, including the following:
Testamentary Capacity. In Massachusetts, only those age 18 or older can make a will. Additionally, a person executing a will must understand the following:
- The extent and nature of their assets. A person does not necessarily have to know of all of their specific assets; instead, they must have a general idea of the assets they own and realize that they are, in fact, the owner.
- Those who are the beneficiaries of, and will inherit under, the will. A testator must understand how their assets will be distributed upon death. Beneficiaries may be family members, friends, and favorite charities. They do not necessarily need to have personal relationship with the beneficiaries, but they do need to understand who will inherit their estate.
- That by executing a will, they are in fact providing for the disposal of their assets upon death. They need to understand the legal effect of the document that they are signing. If any of these elements are lacking, the validity of the will may be challenged.
- Fraud and Forgery. Fraud can consist of a number of actions, including if a testator is deceived into executing a will when they in fact believe that they are executing some other type of document, such as a power of attorney. Forgery can include one person forging the testator’s signature. It may also involve making false or misleading statements to a testator.
- Undue Influence. Undue influence can consist of one person taking advantage of a testator when the testator is not of sound mind in order to induce the testator into including such person in the testator’s will.
Types of Actions that May be Considered Undue Influence
The Will in Question is Not Valid. There are many reasons that a will may not be valid, such as if a subsequent will was executed that specifically revokes the will in question. Additionally, a will may not be valid if certain legal procedures were not followed, such as those concerning witnesses and other execution requirements.
Questions about the Provisions of a Will. The terms of a will may be vague. For instance, a testator may bequeath “my favorite painting to my grandson.” If the testator has a number of paintings and/or more than one grandson, the “favorite” painting and “grandson” may not be clear. Further, a testator may bequeath to his son “my boat.” What happens if the testator acquires subsequent boats, or if he sells the boat that he had at the time the will was made, and subsequently purchases another boat? These types of issues may lead to a will contest where a court may be required to determine the testator’s intent based upon evidence introduced at a trial.
What Happens in a Will Contest, and How I Help
I represent clients in will contests where questions may arise regarding assets they believe they are to inherit. I also represent clients who have been wrongfully cut out of a will, as well as those who have been included in a will but whose inheritance interests are in jeopardy because another person is trying to take assets that belong to that person.
If the assets to which you believe you are entitled are being contested by others, it will be in your best interest to seek legal counsel immediately. This is particularly the case if the assets in question require ongoing care and maintenance, such as a house that must be secured, insurance that must be maintained, and perhaps even a mortgage where payments must continue to be made.
The specific legal action to be taken will vary depending upon the facts and circumstances of your matter. I can meet with you and explain your options and how I can help so that you can make the choice that is best for you to protect your interests.