When an individual leaves a will behind after their passing, the document goes through the probate process to verify its validity and to ensure that the division of the estate follows the deceased’s intentions. An executor named in the will or appointed by the probate court oversees this process.
If an interested party contests the validity of the will, however, probate proceedings come to a halt until the truth of the matter comes to light. It is important for all involved to understand the executor’s duties when someone contests a will in this manner.
Reply to the challenge
An executor’s immediate priority when someone challenges the will is to acknowledge the complaint and file a reply. This reply should outline what steps the executor will take to resolve the issue. Typically, the steps to follow should include seeking additional legal or professional help to ensure sparing no effort in investigating whether or not the will is truly invalid.
Gather witnesses and evidence
When writing a will, it is necessary for a qualified witness to be present for the will to be valid. The first step in investigating a contest to the will is to contact the primary witness to the drafting of the will as well as any other parties who may be witnesses to acts of undue influence on the deceased. Other evidence to gather includes relevant records and financial documents pertaining to the estate.
Following a thorough investigation into the complaint by the executor and their team, the probate court can make a decision regarding the validity of the will. If the challenge goes through, it may be necessary to nullify some or all of the will.