Contesting a Will in Colorado

A will is a legal document dedicated to setting forth an individual’s wishes regarding the distribution of their property and assets as well as the care of their minor children. A will is the most established manner of ensuring that an individual’s wishes on those matters are accurately carried out. Wills are also helpful for an individual’s heirs, making sure that the division of assets is a smooth process.

Initiating a Claim to Contest a Will

A will can be contested for a number of reasons, including but not limited to when an individual believes they should have been a beneficiary of the will in question. Contesting a will is an expensive and formal process and requires evidence and expertise. The grounds for contesting a will vary to some degree from state to state, but the driving force behind each system is similar. To legally contest a will, an individual must have otherwise benefited from the will. The most common manner in which this manifests is with the children of a deceased person. Other common instances also include when an individual did not have children and extended family members litigate their alleged claims to the estate.

The process begins when a will is filed in probate court, resulting in the interested parties receiving notice. Once the process begins, the interested parties must object within the time period stipulated by the relevant jurisdiction. The court then determines if the will is valid and determines heirs, beneficiaries, worth, and assets.

How to Achieve a Successful Claim

Successful claims to contest a will rely on several different factors, with each case resting on unique facts. However, depending on the state, a successful claim will require certain legal grounds to prevail. For example, an individual contesting a will might need to establish that the testator lacked the intent or capacity to draft a valid will, or that the testator was under undue influence or duress from a third party when drafting the will. Other less common reasons to contest a will include proving that there was fraud or a mistake within the will, that prior wills were not correctly revoked, or other such circumstances that lead to the will being declared void.

It is important to note that simply being unhappy with the contents of a will or recalling that the deceased individual had described the will differently is not sufficient grounds alone for contesting a will. The process requires more than just a hunch, suspicion, or sense of unfairness. For example, an individual thinking of contesting a will may have a difficult time with their claim if they had a strained or estranged relationship with the deceased. Such a circumstance could make it easy for the opposing party to argue that the decision to exclude the individual contesting the will on purpose.
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