How Is The Validity Of A Will Or A Trust Determined?
When there is a contest concerning a will or a trust there will be a presumption that a submitted document is valid. A person or persons desiring to contest the documents should put on evidence as to why they believe that the will or the trust is not valid. Such evidence might be in the form of expert witness testimony, such as physicians identifying the decedent’s medical conditions and how those conditions affected his or her mental capacity. The evidence might also be in the form of lay witnesses who are not medical experts of any sort, but who interacted with the decedent during his or her lifetime, presumably close in time to the signing of the last will and testament. Such a witness could be expected to give facts and opinions as to why it appeared that the deceased person was not competent at the time of signing the last will and testament or trust.
Often, but not always, the attorney who drafted the estate planning documents will be called to testify concerning the conversations with the decedent and any observations about the decedent’s condition at the time the estate plan was executed. The judge has to decide whether it is more likely than not that a document, which has been submitted as a last will and testament, was in fact executed by the testator in the proper form, in the proper circumstances, at such a time where the testator was of sound mind, and that the testator was not under the undue influence of another person. On occasion, the party that does not win at the trial court appeals to the Oklahoma Supreme Court. Generally, the Supreme Court gives great deference to the decision of the trial court, as the judge sitting in the trial court personally saw and heard the testimony and witnesses.
What Are Some Of The Possible Events That Can Lead To A Will Or Trust Being Contested?
If a deceased person completes a last will and testament or a trust after being diagnosed with a disease affecting mental abilities, it will not be surprising to see a will contest. If the decedent made multiple changes to her last will and testament immediately before she passed away, it is not surprising to see a will contest. If the decedent drastically changed the nature of his estate plan, giving large sums of money to people that he met very late in life, it would not be surprising to see a will contest. These are just a few of the many situations that can lead to a will contest or trust contest litigation.
What Are Some Other Types Of Probate Litigation?
Litigation can occur almost at any step throughout the route in a probate case. There can be litigation concerning whether the decedent owes the debts that are claimed by creditors. There may be litigation concerning whether particular property does or does not belong to the decedent and his probate estate. There can be litigation concerning who will be appointed by the court to serve as the personal representative of the estate. There can be litigation concerning whether the personal representative followed the law in gathering the decedent’s assets and in administering his estate. In some cases of probate litigation there are multiple problems, but fortunately, in most probates, there is no contested litigation.
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