Understanding the process to contest a will in Colorado could come in useful if you believe that you are the beneficiary of an estate and that the will submitted for probate is inaccurate. As hard as it can be when a loved one passes away, this process gets more stressful and made more complicated when you find out that the last will and testament didn’t have the same provisions that you expected inside it. There are some cases in which you don’t have legal grounds when you realize that a will does not contain the provisions or distributions to you that you were anticipating. However, in other cases, there may be a legal ground for you to initiate a suit with the help of a Colorado will contest lawyer. The rules related to making a valid will in Colorado are found in Colo. Rev. St.§ 15-11-501 et seq.
Who Is Eligible to Contest a Will in Colorado?
Only certain individuals have the ability to contest or challenge a will. This is known in Colorado as standing and only certain people known as interested parties associated with that estate are eligible to contest a will. This means that the person bringing the will contest with the support of a Colorado will contest lawyer would have received something from the deceased’s estate per Colorado law if there was no will at all, or if this person was previously been included as a beneficiary in a previous or the current will. This provides protection and clarity for families and ensures that other people outside of these interested parties are not able to add frivolous lawsuits that could slow down the probate process.
Reasons a Colorado Will Can Be Invalid
As a Colorado will contest lawyer can tell you, you need legal grounds met to illustrate that the will is invalid. There are four primary categories for which this can happen. These include;
- Undue influence in which an individual is effective in persuading the will creator to update the will or revoke a previous will. Undue influence is frequently alleged when a significant bequest to a caretaker or a romantic partner is made and other family members were not anticipating this move.
- Fraud. There are various forms of fraud that can lead to a valid will contest. For example, someone could be fraudulently forced to sign a will by being led to believe that it was a different document entirely or someone can lie to the testator in order to induce them to make a certain bequest or change in the will.
- Lack of mental capacity. One of the primary components of the validity of a will is that the person who created it be of sound mind and over the age of 18. If there are concerns about the mental capacity of the testator at the time the document was created, this can be challenged after the fact. A lack of capacity allegation should always be supported by doctor’s statements who had saw the testator at the time that they signed the will. Medical records might also be used to support or challenge a will contest claim.
- Improper execution. A will has to meet basic Colorado standards in order to be executed in the state. A will needs to be signed in writing by the testator or by another person at the testator’s direction. This should be signed by two people who witness the testator signing the document or by a notary public who is authorized to take such acknowledgements. A handwritten will that is unwitnessed may also be considered valid as a holographic will.
These are not the only four circumstances that can show that a will presented for probate is invalid. If you think that you have legal standing to contest the will as an interested beneficiary, your first contact should be to an will contest attorney serving Colorado who can inform you about whether or not you have the appropriate standing and whether that appears to be evidence to challenge the will. You can also get a reasonable expectation of your level of success should you choose to proceed with the case.