Ridout Barron

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What are valid grounds for contesting a will?

The trauma of losing a loved one could be exacerbated if it becomes clear that someone who expected to be a beneficiary is disinherited. Anyone in Alberta who is in such a situation will want to retain legal counsel at the first opportunity. Once the will is probated and assets are distributed, it might be too late to file a claim contesting it.

Such a claim would only be valid under one of several circumstances. Evidence that the person who signed the will lacked the mental capacity to understand his or her assets, obligations and the effect of writing the will might lead to the will being declared invalid. A will can also be challenged upon proof of undue influence or if the person writing or changing the will was coerced to make changes or bequests. Family members, acquaintances or care providers have been known to take such steps, and the courts will undoubtedly look at reported suspicious circumstances.

Further grounds for questioning the validity of a will concern the necessary compliance with legal requirements. The language of the will must be free of contradictions, improper statements and vagueness. It must be correctly witnessed by individuals who are not the testator's children, spouse or beneficiaries or their spouses. Wills written without the guidance of legal counsel are often declared invalid due to the lack of understanding of the legal requirements of drafting a will.

Anyone in Alberta who believes he or she has a valid claim to an inheritance, but left out of the will, has every right to consult with an experienced estate planning lawyer. Legal counsel can assess the circumstances and determine the viability of contesting a will. The lawyer will then provide advocacy throughout ensuing legal proceedings.

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Ridout Barron

802 13th Ave SW
Calgary, AB T2R 0L2
Phone: 587-315-8454
Fax: 403-271-8016
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