The loss of a loved one is never easy, and matters can be further complicated when there are issues with the will. If you believe that a lack of mental capacity, undue influence, fraud, forgery, or another issue renders a will invalid, you may have a valid claim for challenging that will. One of the most common questions people ask when determining whether to contest a will is, “How long does a will challenge take?” The answer is that it depends, and the article below explains what may affect how long a will challenge might take in your case. For more information on challenging a will, talk to an experienced probate attorney in your area today.
When is the Challenge Filed?
In most states, a challenger to a will must file a claim within one year of the deceased’s passing. However, the sooner you file a challenge to a will, the quicker the process usually goes. This is because an early challenge may prevent the assets of the estate from being distributed, but if the challenge comes later, it may require the extra effort of reclaiming assets that heirs have already received.
How Many Claimants are Involved?
Typically, the more claimants that are involved in the case, the longer the case will take to resolve. This is because every claimant will have his or her own attorney and potential issues they wish to argue in the case. The only exception to this is if all claimants except for one are all in agreement and on the same side, negating the additional complexity of multiple people with multiple complaints.
What are the Issues Alleged?
The type of issue or issues alleged in the will challenge may also affect the length of time the case will take to resolve. Procedural issues such as a lack of two signing witnesses or that the writer of the will was under the age of 18 are relatively quick issues to resolve. However, claims of undue influence or lack of mental capacity often require significantly more discovery, witness statements, and other evidence gathering that takes time to complete.
The Will Challenge Process
In a typical will challenge, once the claim is made to contest the will, your lawyer will attempt to negotiate with the executor to get you the portion of the estate that you are owed. If a resolution can be made, the entire process could be done within a matter of weeks. However, if no agreement is reached, then your attorney will file a lawsuit with the court. These types of cases are often sent to mediation before trial, which can happen up to six months after the lawsuit is filed with the court. If that process is unsuccessful, the case is sent to trial and that can take months, if not years to resolve. It is typical for a will challenge case that goes all the way to trial to take a year or more to resolve.
Talk to a Probate Attorney
To learn more about will challenges in your state, call or contact us to learn more.