During the last year of her life, your mother became reclusive and relied heavily on her in-home caretaker. You became worried in the last few months as it became more difficult to visit your mother or even talk to her on the phone. You began to suspect that the caretaker was abusing your mother financially, physically, or both. Unfortunately, just as you were about to take steps to file a complaint and involve the police, your mother passed away.
You thought that was the end of the caretaker and you would more than likely never see her again. However, at the reading of the will, it became clear what was going on during the final months of your mother's life. The will listed the caregivers as a beneficiary and granted her the majority of your mother's estate.
Contesting a will is very difficult. This is because the court typically considers the will to be the final voice of the decedent that wrote the will. Since your mother can no longer speak her wishes, the court usually makes it a priority not to deviate from the will. However, as a person that has an interest in her estate, you have the right to challenge your mother's will. There are several reasons that are usually successful challenges to a will. An experienced Arizona probate attorney can help you through the process.
Challenging a will
If you win the challenge in court, the judge can void the entire will or only a portion of it. It is even possible to reinstate a previous will that your mother wrote before the caretaker was able to influence her. If the court voids the entire will and there is not a previous version to reinstate, then the judge will divide the property according to state inheritance laws, which are guided by familial relationships.
When will courts declare a will invalid?
In order for a will to be valid, the person that wrote it must have had testamentary capacity at the time. This means that if your mother was suffering from senility, dementia, insanity, or was under the influence of a substance, the court can declare the will invalid. However, you have to be able to prove that your mother lacked the required mental capacity when she wrote the will.
You can also challenge her will by showing that it was produced through fraud, forgery or undue influence. In your case, it is likely that the caretaker manipulated your mother in order to financially gain as a beneficiary.
While contesting a will can be difficult, it is not impossible. If you feel like your mother's will was not a true representation of her final wishes, there are steps you can take to challenge it.