Indiana law requires an estate containing assets exceeding $50,000 to go through probate. This process involves validating a will, distributing assets, and settling outstanding debts.
However, family members who disagree with the distribution of the deceased’s assets may choose to contest the will in court.
Common reasons for contesting a will
Family members may contest a will when their inheritance does not meet their expectations, in scenarios including the following:
- One child’s inheritance is significantly smaller than that of other siblings
- The will includes children from a current marriage and omits those from a prior marriage
- The will does not contain updates to reflect existing family circumstances
- The will contains instructions to leave all assets to charity
- A family member does not think another deserves to receive an asset
Legal reasons to contest a will
According to Indiana law, a will is invalid only when:
- It has critical omissions such as the signatures of two witnesses
- The testator sign it under duress
- The testator does not understand its contents
- The testator who signs thinking it is a different document
The process for contesting a will
Indiana residents can contest a will within 90 days of the date it enters probate by filing a petition to present the case in court. A successful outcome depends upon gathering strong evidence, including documents and witnesses supporting the claimant’s position.
Anyone contesting a will should also be aware of no-contest clauses, which could lead to the forfeiture of any inheritance if the court determines a will is valid. Otherwise, successful contests may result in Indiana’s inheritance laws determining final asset distributions.
Contesting a will can compound the stress of dealing with the loss of a loved one; therefore, it is essential to determine a legal justification for doing so.