Executor wants definition of "contesting a will"

I have been named an executor in my mother's will. She passed away in November, 2009. One proviso in the will is than any beneficiary who contests the will is automatically disqualified from any inheritance contained in the will. I have begun my due dilligence to assemble any and all assets in her estate and part of that process requires me to inquire about the status of bank accounts she held jointly with her grandchildren (who are also named as beneficiaries). The grandchildren refuse to provide bank statements and trust information in their possession making it nearly impossible for me to excute her will. Does such refusal constitute contesting the will and if so can I exclude them from their bequests without taking legal action?

Phoenix, AZ -

Attorney Answers (1)

Dan R Morris

Dan R Morris

Wills and Living Wills Lawyer - Phoenix, AZ
Answered

When an account in held jointly with another person it is not subject to the terms of a will unless you can establish that the name on the account was for convience of the decedent. That is not easy to establish because the testator is dead and can not testify so you have to find evidence of the intent of the decedent. The refusal ot give you the bank statement is not a contest of the will. Contest of the will is when the person brings a court action and disagress with the distribution as setforth in the will. These are not easy cases and can be expensive as is the case when you want to establish the joint owner of the account is not entitled to the money in the joint account

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