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What is the process of disputing a will?

Losing a loved one is a devastating and painful experience. Unfortunately, on top of grieving, there are often many matters the surviving family members must attend to, from making funeral arrangements to participating in the probate process to administer their loved one’s estate.

During the process of administering a will, it is possible that one or several family members might have reason to believe that there are problems with the will. If someone believes that there are significant issues in their loved one’s will, it is possible to contest it. However, there are a few steps in the process to legally dispute a will. 

1. First, you must prove your legal standing

Only certain people have the legal standing to dispute a will, including:

  • Heirs and beneficiaries listed in the will
  • Individuals who were beneficiaries in a previous version of the will
  • Aggrieved persons who would lose rights or property in the estate administration

Anyone looking to dispute a will must first establish that they have such a legal standing.

2. Then, you must provide a valid reason 

It is common to hear stories of family members disputing a will because they believe they should inherit more assets. While this can be a valid reason to challenge a will, no one can challenge a will simply because they do not agree with their loved one’s wishes.

There are specific legal grounds that someone must prove to dispute a will, including:

  • They believe their loved one was under undue influence when making the will
  • They have proof that their loved one was not of sound mind when they made the will
  • There are legal discrepancies that make the will invalid under Kentucky law

3. File a complaint with the court and serve papers to the relevant parties

Proving the legal standing and grounds to contest a will can be a complicated process. However, that is only the first part of contesting a will. After proving those two conditions to challenge a will, then it is critical to:

  • File an official complaint with the court that ruled on the will
  • Send a notice to the county with all of the information from the complaint and dispute
  • Serve court summons to all of the interested parties

Individuals have two years after the initial ruling to dispute the will, but it is in their best interest to file a complaint as soon as possible. Disputing a will is not an easy process. An experienced attorney can help guide individuals through the process, but it is often helpful to file a petition sooner to prevent the administration of the current will.