Losing a loved one is traumatic and the matter can get worse when you discover your loved one has cut you out of his will. This omission could have been on purpose, accident, coercion or under the influence of another family member or friend. Regardless of why you were cut out of the will you should know what steps to take.
What are Your Options?
Before you decide to take any action, it is prudent to consult an estate planning/probate lawyer. Find an attorney who specializes in wills and can help you figure out why you were cut out of your loved one’s will. Once you know the reason for being omitted, you can take the necessary action based on the lawyer’s advice.
If the deceased person intentionally left you out of their will, there aren’t too many legal options available. In fact, you can’t do anything, as long as the person was in their senses and knew exactly what they were doing. However, if you are the deceased person’s spouse, most state laws ensure the surviving spouse inherits a portion of the assets and properties. So, you always have the option of challenging the will in the court of law. But if you are the deceased’s ex, business partner, child or friend, you may not have any option, as most states in the United States don’t have laws to help this category of people. Hence, if you fall in this category, your options of getting a portion of the estate and assets are more or less closed.
On the other hand, if the deceased accidentally omitted your name or was coerced or influenced by another person, you have the option of challenging the will in the court of law. Usually, you have to be a close family member of the deceased to challenge the will, so that you can prove that if the will was not present, you would have automatically inherited a part of the deceased’s estate. Remember, you can’t challenge the will if you are the deceased person’s friend or business partner. You also can’t contest the will if you are distant relative.
Consult an Estate Planning Attorney
Just so that you know what your rights are if you are cut out of a loved one’s will, you should immediately consult a qualified and knowledgeable estate planning/probate attorney, who knows the ins and outs of laws pertaining to wills, inheritance and probate. The attorney will determine whether you have a case or not. If the attorney believes you have a case, the best option is to challenge the will. It may take time, money and effort to get the desired result, but it will be worthwhile – you will be protecting your legal rights.
For further information or consultation, contact the Law Office of Michael Heider. We have expertise and experience in dealing with areas of estate planning, probate, wills and trust administration.