Our experienced Pennsylvania estate lawyers regularly meet with individuals or families who wish to contest a Will. In discussing your PA Will contest matter, one of our skilled Will contest lawyers will listen carefully to your circumstances and will assess whether a basis exists for commencing a Will contest cause of action in the appropriate PA court.
One particular basis for a Will contest in PA is the concept of undue influence. The concept of undue influence as it pertains to a Will contest claim is explained more fully below. Our Will contest lawyers also represent executors or others who have been accused of an act that could form the basis for a challenge to the validity of a Pennsylvania Will.
Ways to Contest a Will in Pennsylvania
A Pennsylvania Will contest challenges the validity or enforceability of a Last Will and Testament. Generally, the issues that form the basis for a PA Will contest include:
- Lack of testamentary capacity
- Undue influence
- Insane Delusion
Undue Influence for a Will Contest in PA
To prove undue influence, the burden is on the party initiating the challenge to show that:
- A confidential relationship existed between a person and the testator;
- The person receives a substantial benefit under the proposed Will; and
- At or around the time the Will was executed, the testator had a weakened mental intellect.
If an individual is able to prove these three elements, then the burden shifts to the party who benefits under the Will to prove the absence of undue influence.
Confidential Relationship: A confidential relationship exists when “the circumstances make it certain that the parties did not deal on equal terms, but, on one side there is an overmastering influence, or, on the other hand, weakness, dependence or trust, justifiably reposed.” Leedom v. Palmer, 274 Pa. 22, 117 A. 410 (1922).
Substantial Benefit: This term is subject to different views, but one case held that 25% of the net estate was not substantial.
Weakened Mental Intellect: A “weakened mental intellect” need not rise to the level of lack of capacity. “The . . . definition of weakened intellect is that it is a mind which, in all the circumstances of a particular situation, is inferior to normal minds in reasoning power, factual knowledge, freedom of thought and decision, and other characteristics of a fully competent mentality. Paolini Will, 13 Fiduc. Rep. 2d 185 (O.C. Montg. 1993).
Will Contest Procedure | Montgomery County, PA
Pennsylvania Will contests are typically very complex matters to litigate. Securing professional legal counsel for any Pennsylvania Will contest matter is highly recommended.
In order to contest a Will in Montgomery County, PA, you must commence the action by filing a Petition to request the issuance of a Citation. The Petition must contain written averments and not general conclusions. The scrivener of the Petition must aver specific facts that, if proved, can lead to a successful outcome in the Montgomery County, PA courts.
Additionally, the Petition must have a form of decree, exhibits, consents, or approvals as may be required. As such, retaining an experienced Pennsylvania Will contest lawyer with knowledge of Wills and estates should be of primary concern if you are seeking to contest a Will.
Contact Will Contest Lawyers in PA
The Martin Law Firm is a southeastern Pennsylvania probate and estate administration law firm with an office conveniently located in Blue Bell, PA, in the heart of Montgomery County. Our experienced Will contest lawyers represent individuals and families for Will contest matters involving allegations of undue influence in Montgomery County, PA, as well as the surrounding areas of Bucks County, Philadelphia County, Delaware County and Chester County.
Cases involving undue influence are normally complex, and it is important to discuss your situation in great detail with an experienced Will contest lawyer prior to commencing litigation. An experienced PA Will contest lawyer can help you evaluate your case in order to help you determine whether your case has merit and whether pursuing the Will contest is worth your while.
Our PA Will contest lawyers offer a free case evaluation for you and your family. Contact a skilled Will contest lawyer in Blue Bell, PA today at 215-646-3980 to schedule a free case evaluation.