How to Contest the Executor of a Will

By Anna Assad

An executor is a person who handles the financial affairs of an estate, including the distribution of assets to heirs, and is named in the will of a deceased person. Probate, the legal process used to sort out an estate, gives the executor authority to perform his duties. You, as an heir of the estate, have the right to contest an executor's appointment if you are concerned about his ability to perform his duties or if you believe the will naming him is invalid. A will may be invalid under your state's laws due to the mental incompetency of the deceased person at the time the will was made, fraud, or the will maker being pressured or coerced into signing the document.

An executor is a person who handles the financial affairs of an estate, including the distribution of assets to heirs, and is named in the will of a deceased person. Probate, the legal process used to sort out an estate, gives the executor authority to perform his duties. You, as an heir of the estate, have the right to contest an executor's appointment if you are concerned about his ability to perform his duties or if you believe the will naming him is invalid. A will may be invalid under your state's laws due to the mental incompetency of the deceased person at the time the will was made, fraud, or the will maker being pressured or coerced into signing the document.

Step 1

List in writing the supporting facts for your contesting of the executor or the will. If you are alleging that the executor is unfit, include the reasons why, such as questionable mental competency. If you are questioning the mental state of the deceased person at the time the will was written, include items such as a diagnosis of a debilitating mental condition, like Alzheimer's disease. Include any other factors you believe support your case. Highlight the items you have solid evidence of. Review highlighted items to determine if these reasons can be proved in court.

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Step 2

Gather the evidence for all of the highlighted items. Include medical documentation or a signed physician's statement for medical conditions. List any witnesses you have who may be able to support your case.

Step 3

Visit the court clerk's office that serves the court probating the will. Request the forms for contesting a will if you are challenging the will. Request the forms for a hearing on the executor's capacity to fulfill his duties if you alleging he is unfit. Ask for instructions for the forms.

Step 4

Fill out the forms in full. Follow all instructions. State clearly your reason for the will contest or challenge of the executor.

Step 5

Talk to the witnesses on your list. Verify that the information each witness has will help your case. Inform witnesses that they may be required to testify in court.

Step 6

File the forms in the court clerk's office. Submit copies of your supporting evidence if required to do so under your state's laws. Attend all scheduled hearings and comply with any court requests.

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How to Contest Wills in New Jersey

References

Related articles

What Does it Mean to Contest a Will?

A will contest or will challenge occurs when someone files a lawsuit in court stating that he believes the will is invalid. Wills can be found invalid by courts for a number of reasons including that the will's maker was incompetent or forced to leave or not leave certain property to certain people, or that the will itself does not follow the state's laws for valid wills.

How to Challenge Power of Attorney

A power of attorney is a powerful legal tool because it allows an attorney-in-fact to perform binding legal acts, such as signing contracts, on behalf of the principal. The principal has no need to resort to challenging the attorney-in-fact's authority unless he is seeking redress for damages arising from acts already performed, because the principal is entitled to revoke a power of attorney at any time as long as he is competent (mentally sound and able to communicate). A third party, however, may have an interest in challenging a power of attorney, especially if the principal has become incompetent due to injury or illness.

Can You Contest a Will After Probate?

The probate process officially recognizes the will as valid. It also allows the executor to follow the will's instructions under the supervision of the probate court. When probate begins, so does the window of time in which beneficiaries can contest a will. Once probate is over, the estate no longer exists and the will cannot be challenged.

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