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What happens when someone contests a will?

Discussion in 'Estate Planning, Creating Wills & Trusts' started by Nascgi Gale, May 17, 2020.

  1. Nascgi Gale

    Nascgi Gale Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I'm writing a novel, so generic answers are fine. I didn't pick a jurisdiction above because I'm looking for a common answer, but if the location matters, I think of Connecticut as being the type of state where my story takes place.

    That being said, one of my main characters arranges for the murder of her wealthy husband. His twin sister is contesting the will, which leaves everything to his widow, because she knows about the plot and doesn't want her to profit from his murder. However, there is no physical proof of any crime and the police have ruled the wife out as a suspect.

    I have come to understand that she would have no grounds to contest the will, however, suspending disbelief a little for the sake of fiction, what I would like to know is:

    1. What happens to his estate while a will is being contested?
    2. How long would it take for the court to dismiss (is dismiss the right word) this contest?
     
  2. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    Generally the personal representative of the estate will not make significant distributions to beneficiaries until the contest is resolved.

    That depends on what the reason is for the dismissal and the particular court and judge hearing the case. Might be just several weeks, might be a lot longer.
     
  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    That's going to be an awfully dull story.

    Perhaps no grounds to "successfully" contest the will but there would be nothing stopping her from contesting it anyway.

    Weeks, months, years. Depends.
     
  4. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    There is very little courtroom drama in real-world cases of this nature. You'll have to take a bit of artistic license.
     
  5. Nascgi Gale

    Nascgi Gale Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hey all thanks for the help! I would like to reassure you this will has very little to do with the overall plot and is basically just there to create a little bit of an inconvenience to one of the characters.

    One more related question for you; would the wife still be able to live in the residence while the will is being contested?
     
  6. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    If the creator of her universe allows it...sure.
     
  7. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Connecticut is an “equitable distribution” state.

    Whether the surviving spouse can reside in the home after the death of the other spouse would depend on how the name(s) read on the deed.

    Normally most married couples title their deed to read: "joint tenants with right of survivorship."

    If the deed were worded according to normal verbiage the home would pass to the surviving spouse without any need for probate.
     
  8. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    Contesting the will on what grounds? If the sole ground for contesting the will is that the wife procured the murder of her husband, then a will contest would be completely foolish. A successful will contest would mean that the estate would be administered either (1) under the law of intestate succession or (2) pursuant to the terms of a prior will (if there was one). Under intestate succession, if there are no kids, then the spouse still inherits the entire estate. If there are kids, then the surviving spouse gets the first $100k plus half of the rest. Also, unless the sister stands to inherit by way of intestate succession, she would have no standing to contest the will. Finally, married couples often own their most significant assets jointly with the right of survivorship or via a trust, in which case those assets would not be part of the probate estate that is subject to a will.

    Well...there's a dead body. That's physical evidence.

    Depends on a lot of factor, including the extent and nature of the assets and debts of the deceased and who is appointed as executor of the estate.

    Depends on the grounds on which the contest is based and the evidence in support of it. It could be as short as a month or two or as long as several years.

    Very likely.
     

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