Will Contest Lawyers Serving Beaufort, Bluffton, Hilton Head Island - Proudly Serving South Carolina
When coping with a loss, it can be difficult thinking about the money and assets your loved one had and how it will be divided. But you may be a beneficiary of a will that is being challenged. You may need to contest a will. Keep in mind, there is a limited amount of time for making a will contest in South Carolina. That's why it's critical to contact Twenge + Twombley promptly so we can begin working for you. Call 866-452-6315 for a free initial consultation.
Will contests are all-too-common sources of probate and estate litigation in Hilton Head Island and other communities across South Carolina's Lowcountry, where many retirees flock from the Northeast and Midwest to live out their retirement years. Many will contests involve a caretaker who influenced a vulnerable testator to change his or her will to favor the caretaker at the expense of other family members.
If you believe that you may have grounds to challenge a will or trust, or if you are the beneficiary of a will that is being challenged, don't hesitate to speak with an attorney immediately. Call our Beaufort office at 866-452-631 to schedule an initial consultation. We will examine your situation thoroughly and work with you to achieve your goals. We can help if you live out of state and need a will dispute lawyer in South Carolina.
What are common will contests in South Carolina?
Last minute changes to a will or trust can be the source of litigation over whether or not the person who made the change had the capacity to do so. A will or trust can be challenged in a South Carolina probate proceeding on a number of grounds, including:
- Lack of proper formalities: Proper execution of a will requires that certain formalities be followed. A will can be contested on the grounds that it was not properly drafted, signed or witnessed in accordance with the applicable requirements.
- Lack of capacity: Under South Carolina probate law, the person making or changing a will is required to have a certain mental competency for the change to be considered valid. A will can be declared void if lack of capacity can be proven. Typically, incompetence is established through medical evidence or through the testimony of witnesses as to the irrational conduct of the deceased around the time the will was executed or changed.
- Undue influence: Undue influence occurs when someone is compelled or coerced to execute a will or trust as a result of improper pressure exerted on him or her, typically by a relative, friend, trusted advisor, or health care worker. In many cases, the undue influence will upset a long-established estate plan. Some undue influencers are new friends or acquaintances of the decedent who "befriend" the decedent in the last months or years of life, typically after the decedent has suffered some decline in mental ability. In other situations, one child of the decedent, often a caregiver, will coerce the decedent to write the other children out of the will. Undue influencers can also be health care workers or live-in aides who implicitly or explicitly threaten to withhold care unless the estate plan is changed in favor of them.
Who can challenge a will?
To challenge a will, you need to have “standing” – that is, you need to have a sufficient connection to the matter to actually participate in the case. If you are an heir to the estate or were named as a beneficiary in an earlier will, you have standing. If it’s not immediately obvious that you are an heir or beneficiary, then your standing to challenge the will may be challenged in court.
The process of contesting a will in South Carolina
First, you need to file a written objection called a summons and complaint. This complaint needs to set forth a clear argument for why the will is invalid, using one of the criteria listed above. There will be a process of discovery, pre-trial motions, and ultimately a court hearing. To succeed, you not only need to know the law, but also the rules of evidence and procedure that apply to will disputes.
You also need to act quickly – once the probate process begins, you have only a limited window of time to initiate the will contest. The sooner you have an experienced will contest lawyer on your side, the better.
Results-driven Beaufort, SC will contest attorneys - Twenge + Twombley
At Twenge + Twombley, we have a hard-earned reputation as a small law firm that delivers big results. That's because we put the needs of our clients first. Our attorneys strive to provide personalized, individual service to each of our clients. We're willing to take the time to answer your questions. No matter your legal concern, our experienced legal team will always have your best interests in mind.
Will contests are a common type of probate and estate dispute that can be difficult and confusing without the help of a lawyer. We're ready to fight for you. Call 866-452-6315 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a free case consultation with our knowledgeable Beaufort, SC will contest attorneys. We proudly serve clients in Beaufort, Bluffton, Hilton Head Island and other communities throughout South Carolina's Lowcountry.
Twenge + Twombley. Rare name, remarkable service.