Are you interested in contesting a will in North Carolina?
Do you believe that your loved one’s probated will is not a true representation of their estate wishes?
Do you have a more recent version of his or her will that has not been probated?
If you believe that there is some error in a will, you can contest it. Though it is not an easy process, it can be done. Here are some common questions about contesting a will in North Carolina:
Who Can Contest a Will in NC?
North Carolina law allows a will to be contested by anyone who is entitled under the will or by anyone who has a financial or beneficial interest in the estate that is negatively affected by the will.
What If My Loved One’s Will Is Different Than What He Told Me About His Wishes?
Except in limited circumstances, your deceased loved one’s wishes must be in writing. If your deceased loved one told you something about distributing his or her assets, but it is not documented in writing, it may not hold up in court. Typically, the will that is put on file with the probate court will be followed unless you can produce a will that was written more recently. If your loved one did not leave a will, read our article on dying intestate.
What is a Caveat?
In order to contest a probated will, you need to file a caveat with the clerk of the court. A caveat is a document that challenges the validity of the will. The two most common reasons a will may be deemed invalid are as follows:
- the deceased person was incapable of making legal decisions at the time the will was written; or
- the will was obtained by undue influence.
It is best to file a caveat during the probate process. If that is not possible, it must be filed within three years of the probate.
The North Carolina Superior Court will hear the caveat case in front of a jury. The jury then decides if the will represents the decedent’s last written wishes.
If you are considering contesting a will, give our office a call at 704-289-2519. The lawyers at Perry, Bundy, Plyler and Long LLP have over 90 years of experience in dealing with estate issues for North Carolina families. We can review your case and recommend the best course of action.