Even though you want your loved one’s last requests to be honored, you may not believe that the will being presented to the court represents your loved one’s wishes. It’s important to know your legal options for ensuring that your loved one’s estate goes to the right people.
Grounds for Contesting a Will in Louisiana
When you contest or object to a will, you are saying that you don’t believe the will was legally executed according to Louisiana law. The three most common reasons for contesting a will include:
- The person making the will was under undue influence. The person making the will (the testator) must want to make the specific provisions contained in the will. If the testator was pressured or unduly influenced by someone else to create the will or to include a specific provision, the will may be contested on the grounds of undue influence.
- The will was not created in accordance with Louisiana law. Louisiana, like all states, has specific requirements about how to make a will. Whether the testator created a notarial will or an olographic will, the particular requirements must be met. For example, notarial wills must be written, signed, dated, and witnessed. Olographic wills must be handwritten. If a formal requirement for creating or executing a will was not met, you may have grounds for contesting the will. The burden is on you to prove that the will does not meet the legal requirements and should be set aside.
- The testator lacked the mental capacity to create a will. It is difficult to prove that a testator lacked the mental capacity to create a will. However, in some cases, it can be done successfully. Mental capacity, also referred to as testamentary capacity, means that the testator generally understands the nature and consequences of creating a will and the provisions of the will. You must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the testator lacked this capacity at the time the will was executed. Evidence may include medical records from around the time the testator created the will, lay witness testimony, and expert witness testimony.
Only people with an interest in the outcome of a succession case can formally contest a will in Louisiana. In other words, if you have: (1) a legal reason to challenge the validity of the will; and (2) the right to inherit property either through the will or Louisiana’s laws of intestacy, you may talk to a lawyer about contesting the will.
How to Contest a Will in Louisiana
After a succession case is opened, you can file an objection to the succession petition with the court. Your petition of objection should include:
- Your name and address
- Your interest in filing the opposition
- Your grounds for opposition
- A prayer for relief, indicating what resolution you are seeking
Once the court receives your petition of objection, the court will schedule a contradictory trial to hear your concerns, consider evidence, and rule on your objection.
Dealing with an estate after the death of a loved one is often emotional and complicated, particularly when you object to the validity of the will. Estate litigation may become necessary, and you need to be prepared to protect your rights.
Each year, our succession, probate, and estate lawyers represent hundreds of people throughout Louisiana. We know what issues to expect, what evidence to seek, what arguments to make, and the likely outcomes of your case. We will advise you of all of your legal options, so you can make an informed decision about what to do next.