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The difficult challenge of contesting a will

Soon after a loved one's death, family members may learn the deceased's wishes as outlined in a will. A loved one who has not been forthcoming about his or her estate plans prior to death may leave unexpected terms in a will. This can lead to confusion and even anger among the heirs, especially if any have been disinherited. However, British Columbia courts limit the reasons for contesting a will.

It is not enough to be unhappy with the contents of a will. To contest a will, one must prove that there is some legal problem with the document or with the testator at the time the will was written. For example, the heir may be able to prove to the court that the testator did not have the mental capability to execute a will. Perhaps the person did not realize he or she was signing a legal document or understand the scope of his or her estate.

The heir may try to convince the court that another person put undue pressure on the testator to change the will. On the other hand, perhaps there are issues with the will itself, such as a missing signature, an improper witness or any factor that may make the will invalid. Any of these problems or suspicions may be enough to bring probate to a halt so the court can investigate the challenge.

Contesting a will is not easy, and those unhappy heirs may find that gathering evidence to prove their case is nearly impossible. Consulting with a professional is always a wise step to take before launching any legal challenge. A skilled British Columbia lawyer can evaluate an heir's claim and offer solid advice about the best way to proceed.

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