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When there is a problem with a loved one's estate planning

Some Delaware residents are surprised when they hear the contents of a deceased family member's will. Not everyone will be happy with the estate planning choices that a loved one made, and in many cases, simply being unhappy with an inheritance -- or the lack thereof -- is not enough to contest a will. However, there are times when there is reason to believe that the will might not be valid, and it might be appropriate to take action.

If a Delaware resident executed a will prior to the birth of a child and failed to update it to provide for that child as was done for other children (sometimes referred to as accidental disinheritance), the will could be contested. Surviving spouses are also protected. Delaware law allows for him or her to take an elective share of the estate regardless of what the will says.

Should there be any question regarding whether the decedent was incapacitated and unable to understand what he or she was signing at the time the will was executed, it could be challenged. The same could also be done if there is a question regarding whether undue influence was exerted on the decedent to sign a will in which there are provisions that he or she might not have desired. Wills also have to be executed in accordance with certain rules, and if they are not, they could be declared invalid in court.

Everyone should have the right to dispose of his or her property after death in any manner desired, which is the goal of estate planning. However, circumstances might require interested parties to dispute whether the wishes expressed in a will were actually the decedent's wishes. When there is a doubt, it would be advisable to consult with an attorney regarding whether it would be appropriate to challenge the validity of a will.

Source: consumerreports.org, "How to contest a will", Accessed on Nov. 28, 2016

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