When dealing with the death of a loved one, the last thing most people want to do is think about fighting a legal battle. However, in some unfortunate circumstances, family members, friends or other beneficiaries or potential beneficiaries under a will may feel that something about the document is “not right.” Whether they have been left out completely, or have not been bequeathed the share expected, or just think that someone applied undue influence to the testator, these individuals have some ways of making their voices heard. To do this, they may choose to contest the validity of the will documents.
But, how does one go about contesting a will? There are two possible methods in Nevada. First, a person can contest a will before the probate process has ended. Basically, any person who is “interested” in the outcome of a probate case, including someone who was a beneficiary under a prior version of the will but may not be under the one being probated, can file a written set of objections with the probate court. These objections will have to be served on the other heirs and interested parties by citation, and they will be given 30 days to respond to the contest. The trial of such a contest is usually heard by the probate judge, although a party may demand a jury if it is willing to advance the costs thereof.
The second way to contest a will would be after it has already been probated. Individuals or entities who were not party to a previous contest, and were not given notice in time to join any previous contest of the will, may file a petition with the court that probated the will within three months after the order entering the will to probate was issued. Again, all parties must be noticed by citation, including the personal representative and any known heirs or devisees. If successful at a trial, the will may be revoked, but if it is not, the contesting party will have to pay the expenses incurred for the contest.
While it’s not easy to deal with a legal proceeding during a time of what should be grief and mourning, sometimes protecting one’s legal rights is necessary if something went amiss in the creation of the will. Whether contesting a will, or defending against a contest, Nevada residents may wish to consider consulting an experienced probate litigation attorney.