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Estate Asset Claim Attorney in Philadelphia, PA

Estate transfer after the death of a loved one can be a very difficult time. Probate administration, the legal process through which assets are distributed to beneficiaries, can be charged with emotion. It is not uncommon for disputes to arise and wills to be contested. Even when the decedent’s will has made their wishes clear, people may attempt to exploit the situation and claim ownership or rights to property they’re not entitled to.

Contesting a Will in Pennsylvania

Contesting or challenging a will in Pennsylvania means that you believe a judge should invalidate the will that has been submitted. There are various reasons why a will may need to be contested in Pennsylvania, including the following:

  • Forgery: This would mean that the deceased was not the one to actually sign in the will.
  • Capacity: This means that the deceased may have signed the will, but they lacked the necessary mental capacity to understand what they were signing.
  • Fraud: This would indicate that the will was signed by the deceased but under false pretenses.
  • Invalid execution: This would mean that the person signed the will in a way that the state does not recognize as valid.
  • Undue influence: This would indicate that the deceased signed the will, but then they did so under undue pressure from others.

Will contest procedures

Contesting a Will in Pennsylvania is often going to be an emotional process for everybody involved. By their very nature, a will contest is going to be a conflict between two or more parties. This area of law can be highly complex, so you should work with an attorney that handles this type of work on a regular basis.

It is important to note that a judge who focuses on estate conflicts will hear these cases, but it is not the job of the judge to investigate the facts of the case. You and your attorney will need to gather evidence and present it to the judge in the appropriate manner. In Pennsylvania, contesting a will could involve:

  • Witness depositions
  • Obtained records
  • Subpoenaed documents

There are two ways that a person can challenge a will in Pennsylvania. This includes:

  1. Filing a caveat: A person will need to file a caveat with the Register of Wills in the county where the deceased lived at the time of their death. A caveat will place a hold on the probate process until the grounds for challenging the will have been addressed. It is important to note that a caveat must be filed before the actual will is filed.
  2. Contesting after filing: A will can also be contested after filing, and this will include filing an appeal with the Register of Wills. An appeal will open the estate and allow individuals to explain the reason they wish to contest the will. This will also allow proponents of the current will to argue their position.

Statute of limitations for contesting a Will in Pennsylvania

Each state is responsible for setting a time limit for how long family members or beneficiaries of an estate have to contest a will. In Pennsylvania, a will challenge needs to be brought within one year of the will’s probate with the Register of Wills. If the will is not challenged within this time period, then no other party will be able to challenge the will in the future, regardless of why a petitioner may wish to challenge the document.

When such contention arises, call Solomon, Sherman & Gabay for experienced, knowledgeable counsel. We will schedule a free consultation during which you will meet with one of our five expert attorneys. This consultation allows us to assess your unique situation and inform you of your rights and legal options. Our firm has decades of experience with estate asset claims in Pennsylvania. We have successfully and sensitively handled many in-family disputes and other estate issues. For in-family disputes, we make every attempt at resolution through negotiation and mediation. If your case does go to trial, you can count on our tough and tactful trial skills when we represent you.

As part of our representation for your claim, a team of experts will conduct an investigation into contested wills to determine if undue influence or diminished mental capacity may justify the contest. We will help establish the validity of a common law marriage and the extent of the inheritance rights of the spouse. Contested home ownership can be resolved through quiet title action, a type of lawsuit that establishes a beneficiary’s right to a decedent’s titled property.

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