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NYFamilyAttorney, Lawyer
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 549
Experience:  Owner, attorney in private practice, licensed for 36 years as a trial and appellate attorney
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What do we do if a disinherited relative contests the will?

Customer Question

What do we do if a disinherited relative contests the will?
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

Hello. I’m a licensed attorney with 36 years’ experience. I specialize in family law and appeals, and I have many years’ experience with landlord-tenant issues, employment and contract law. I also have written hundreds of legal articles. I look forward to helping you today.

Please note:This is general information and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an attorney on this site.

At the end of this session, I will ask you to please rate me as that’s the only way I get credit for helping you today. Thanks! Please note: I want to help you but I may need some additional information from you.

Also – I will be typing my answer for you so I’ll be back asap.

Are you one of the beneficiaries of the will, and what was your relationship to the deceased? Who is planning to contest the will? Thanks.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I was. My mother has died, and my stepfather just changed his will...
Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

Thanks for that. Just to clarify, you want to contest your mother's will? You are the person who was left out?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
my brothers and I want to contest if we can. My brothers are the biological sons of my step father. My sister and I signed over our shares to our step father after our mother died. Now he has changed his will and disinherited all of us
Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

I'm sorry to hear this. That's really awful. You all trusted the stepfather/bio father and he disinherited every child, including his biological kids?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I can't phone you as I am deaf and con not hear on the phone...
Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

That's okay, we can talk about this here. That's fine with me. Thanks for the information.

Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

It's difficult sometimes to get all of the information out this way but it does work, it just takes a little longer. Your mom and stepfather lived in Idaho and he still lives there?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
he does. He has given away to a nephew the lake property which is worth much and his liquid assets we don't know about as his new will is sealed until his funeral.
Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

Okay. This is difficult but first, were you -- you and your sister -- provided for in HIS will previously? Were his other children?

Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

I'm asking these for a reason -- there are things that can be done and things that cannot, depending on the situation.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
we all were. My sister as since passed away. My older brother was to get the lake property and my young brother and I were to get the liquid assets less 15% for my nephew who now inherits all
Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

Thank you. That is going to help. Much appreciated.

This is a crazy situation but it happens.

Here's the basic law on this:

Stepchildren are not heirs to their stepparent's will. However, IF they were named previously in the stepparent's will, a challenge will be possible. That doesn't mean you will win but it's a possibility. He's still alive though so Idaho doesn't provide for contesting the will before death, but the court can view this as part of your mother's will.

The rule is: In order for the stepchildren to contest a will, they must have been named in a prior will. In a typical will contest situation, the last will is challenged on the grounds of lack of capacity, undue influence, fraud, mistake, or coercion.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
This helps very much. Thank you for your help...
Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

The problem with that is that if your biological mom and stepfather made their wills at the same time and the wills are identical in that both wills leave the estate to the surviving spouse, and upon the second to die leave the estate in equal shares to the biological and stepchildren -- after the death of the first spouse, the surviving spouse can usually change his or her will to exclude the stepchildren. In most states, the concept of mutual wills making a binding contract to never change the wills is not recognized.

In other words, in Idaho, it is possible for the stepfather to change his will after your mother died.

Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

Wait, there's more

Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

I'm truly sorry about your sister and your mother.

As far as the will contest, this is now for you and your stepbrothers. Wow, he cut out his own bio kids too. Really thorny situation.

You can contest the will and my guess is it's based on fraud that he changed his will after he got you all to agree to sign over your shares?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Mom didn't have a will so all of us signed papers giving our shares to the stepfather.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
He made out his 1st will some years after Mom died as my sister's insistence. This was I think 2009.
Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

I don't know if you're in ID but if you and your brothers are, it would be a good idea to discuss this with a wills and estates attorney in the area where your stepdad is.

Okay got it.

The situation is problemmatical, because he's still alive. Yet, you may want to discuss this with a wills and estates attorney in ID because you signed over your intestate shares to your stepfather. This sounds too much like a fraudulent transaction and you can contest the will due to fraud.

Has mom's estate been probated yet?

You should all hire one attorney to represent you in ID and explain the situation. It's difficult to challenge your stepfather's will now as he's alive, and ID doesn't necessarily recognize that right to challenge while alive. However, if you signed over your part of your mother's estate because you believed your stepfather would provide for you, or he said he would, and now he's not, then you can try to contest your mother's estate signing over to him if her estate hasn't already been probated, otherwise you'd have to open that up. The court would have to rehear it.

Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

If he promised you all something, and he reneged, and you believe you can prove fraud, you may be able to contest the will and the estate of your mom's. You have to decide whether challenging the estate of your mom and the stepfather's will are worth it because you'll have to spend money to do so, but if you and your brothers share the cost of an attorney it would make it less burdensome on each of you.

Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

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Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

If you would like, I can send you a list of ID estate lawyers in your area or stepfather's area --I'd just have to know the town/city or nearest town/city. We cannot make recommendations but I can give you a list of attorneys in the area and let you know how to choose one. That's entirely up to you but it's at no extra charge -- I do this for my customers here as a free service.

Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

Thank you in advance for rating me. I spent more than 45 min here and that's the only way I can get credit for my time here today. I would really appreciate the rating -- many thanks.

Expert:  NYFamilyAttorney replied 4 months ago.

Hi, just checking in to see if you still need help with your question and if my answer was helpful for you. Thanks!


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