Do you believe that a will that has been submitted to probate in Iowa is inaccurate, was procured by fraud or is superseded by a more recent will? All of these are serious allegations and ones that can threaten your existing relationships with family members. For this reason it is crucial to take these cases seriously and to retain an Iowa will contest lawyer immediately. You may also wish to leverage the services of an Iowa will contest attorney if you are the beneficiary of a current submitted version of a will and believe that your inheritance could be jeopardized by a successful will contest.
Contesting a Will in Iowa
After a will has been submitted to probate on behalf of a deceased individual, it can generate doubt or concern. If there is uncertainty about the validity of a will, an interested party might use this as an opportunity to open a will contest with the help of a will contest attorney in Iowa. This can slow down and halt the probate process of the decedent’s estate until the court has had the opportunity to evaluate the grounds of the will contest. Only interested parties in Iowa are eligible to open a will contest. Interested parties must stand to gain or lose property or something of value if the will is carried out as written. Some of the most common interested parties to file with the support of a will contest lawyer in Iowa include siblings, parents, spouses, and children. There are other circumstances, however, in which someone outside the family can open a will contest, like a creditor.
Legal Grounds for Contesting a Will in Iowa
In addition to having appropriate standing as an interested party in the estate, there are specific legal grounds on which someone must contest a will in Iowa. Some of these examples are outlined below.
Lack of Capacity
If an interested party believes that the testator did not have the right mental capacity at the time they executed the will, the terms in the document itself can be contested. A testator must;
- Know they are making a will.
- Understand the value and kind of their property.
- Identify their natural heirs in the document.
- Have a clear understanding of how they want to distribute tehri property.
Lack of testamentary capacity is the grounds on which an interested party can allege that the will is invalid. However, this is not automatically established by memory issues, dementia diagnoses or old age. Instead the person alleging that the decedent did not have testamentary capacity is responsible for proving this in court.
One common issue that emerges in many different will contest cases is the allegation that a person who became very close to the decedent, near the time of their death, dramatically altered the provisions of the will or promoted a new will entirely. This could become a health care provider or a relative or friend, enabling interested parties to argue on grounds of undue influence that the will submitted to probate should be invalidated.
Tips for Contesting a Will in Iowa
To formally open a court case that the will is invalid, an interested party has to file a complaint with the probate court that is handling the estate administration. The executor of this estate will then be notified and will have the opportunity to defend the will in question during a trial.
A probate judge will hear the stories from both sides and deliver a verdict. If the will is still considered valid after this court hearing, the assets are distributed per their terms. If a will is found invalid either in part or in whole, the affected portion or the entire estate will be distributed under Iowa’s intestate law. This means that winning a contested will trial does not automatically guarantee an inheritance or property for an interested party. These legal issues are complex and should always be discussed with an experienced attorney.