Trusted Mississippi Estate Planning Attorney Representing Clients in Will Contests
Advocating for beneficiaries and heirs of the deceased in Jackson, Clarksville, Oxford and throughout the state
Wills are an important part of estate planning, because they lay out where you want your assets to go after you pass. However, beneficiaries and heirs – and in some cases, would-be beneficiaries and heirs – can contest the will if they feel they have a strong case to make against the estate’s assets. If a will is properly executed, it can be both challenging and expensive to contest it. Mississippi law also limits who has standing to contest a will and on what grounds it may be contested.
If you have decided to contest a will, you can benefit from the services of a knowledgeable Mississippi estate planning attorney who also has trial experience. Probate law is complicated, and you do not want to challenge a will without steadfast, experienced legal representation. At the law firm of Merkel & Cocke, P.A., we are here to protect your interests as you attempt to challenge a will. Contact our office to reserve a consultation to discuss your case today.
What is a will contest?
You have probably heard the old joke, “Where there is a will, there’s squabbling relatives.” Those relatives are contesting or challenging the contents of the decedent’s will. After someone dies, those who are left behind may fight over their loved one’s possessions and property. If they stood to inherit, if they expected to inherit, but when the will was read they received the shocking news that they were not named in the will, they might consider contesting the will.
The grounds for contesting a will in Mississippi
There are many reasons a person might want to contest a will. Some examples of legal grounds for contesting a will include:
- The will was not signed and witnessed. State law requires that the testator sign the will, and have it attested to by two or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator: MS Code § 91-5-1; MS Code § 91-5-1. If it can be proven that the will was not signed in accordance with the law it can be challenged.
- Lack of mental capacity. If it can be proven that the testator was not of sound mind when they wrote and executed the will, it may be challenged.
- Undue influence. You may have heard of a case like this. An older person was harassed and verbally abused into changing their will.
- Fraud. It would be difficult to prove that the will was fraudulent as the testator is not around to say what they thought they were signing, but it is a possibility.
What is the time limit for challenging a will in Mississippi?
The time limit for a will contest in Mississippi depends on which form of estate administration is being followed. There are two forms of estate administration in Mississippi: common form probate and solemn form probate.
With a common form probate, which can be done informally and without notice, a will is open to contest for two years from the date of the probate proceeding to contest it.
With the solemn form probate, all interested parties will receive notice of the proceeding which become binding on anyone who has received notice. Once the solemn form probate is complete, it is final and cannot be contested further.
Requirements for contesting a will
You would begin by consulting an experienced Mississippi estate planning attorney and request that they file a caveat against the probate of the will. This ensures that you will receive notice and be able to attend a hearing. If the probate process has already begun, you can file a lawsuit to challenge the will within two years of the date probate concluded.
My siblings and I are upset about how out father distributed his estate. Can we contest the will?
No. Just because you are dissatisfied with how the proceeds of the will are being distributed does not give you grounds to contest the will. If you can provide evidence of undue influence, or if the will was not executed according to the law, then you can protest it on legal grounds, but not because you are disappointed that you did not get what you expected to get.
If you feel strongly compelled to contest a will, you may wish to schedule a consultation with a trusted Mississippi estate planning attorney from Merkel & Cocke who will review your case and advise you of your available legal options.
Schedule a consultation with a Mississippi estate planning attorney to discuss your will contest case
The lawyers of Merkel & Cocke work as a team to develop the most effective litigation strategy for your will contest case. We have offices in Jackson, Oxford and Clarksdale, and we work with estate planning clients throughout Mississippi, Tennessee and Arkansas. Call us at 662-799-1633 or complete our contact form to speak with a will contest attorney about your legal options right away.