A will is a legally binding contract that must be upheld even though the person who has written it has passed away. However, this doesn't mean that you cannot dispute or contest a will that has been read after a person's passing. In some cases, this can be a good thing if it means protecting their real wishes, while in other cases you may not have much of a legal standing. Note a few commonly asked questions about disputed wills, although you need to speak to a lawyer to get personalized advice for your case in particular.
1. Can anyone contest any will?
A dispute over a will needs to stand up in a court of law, so while you can dispute or contest a will, usually there is just a limited number of reasons for that dispute that will get your complaint to court. This might include your assertion that the person was being unduly influenced to write and sign the will, if they lacked the mental capacity needed to compose the will, or if you have good reason to think that they did not know the contents of the will.
There may be other grounds for which you can make a legal, valid complaint about a will, so it's good to talk to an attorney about your reasons for your objections. However, remember that you cannot contest a will simply because you don't like it or want more inheritance than what you're legally owed.
2. When can a will be contested?
Timing is important because, like many other legal matters, there may be a statue of limitations for contesting a will. This time period can be very short, as monies and real property can be dispersed quickly after a will is read or entered into probate court; trying to get that money or properties back after so many months or years can be an impossibility. Talk to an attorney as soon as you have any doubts or questions rather than trying to figure out the situation on your own.
3. Does contesting a will mean having to go to court?
As with other legal issues, this often depends on the case itself. Some disputed wills can be mediated outside of court, or you may be offered a settlement of some sort. If the dispute can't be resolved, it may be required that a court hearing be scheduled. If you're worried about a court case, talk to an attorney about the possibility of mediating the issue and then you can make your decision if you want to proceed.