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What are my chances of contesting a will? I think my uncle may have forced him into changing a will days before his death.

Orono, ME |

What are my chances of contesting a will successfully? My grandfather passed away on Dec 17, 2013. He told me his whole life details about a will he had, that he would split everything equally 5 ways - my uncle, me, my brother, my 2 cousins. My mother has passed away. My uncle had his will changed on Dec 3, 2013. He showed me a "DRAFT" with no signature (not sure if the lawyer has a real copy, and can i get access to a real copy?) The change to the will 2 weeks before my grandfather died - left everything to my uncle. In the last months of my grandfather's life - he was heavily sedated with morphine and in "hospice care". What kind of proof do I need to contest a will? His estate is probably worth close to $500k... house, cars, CDs, stock, and bank accounts.

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Attorney answers 3


It is usually very difficult to successfully contest a will. The objecting party has a heavy burden. It is necessary to prove (1) that the instrument was not executed properly or (2) the person who signed it lacked mental capacity to make a valid will or (3) the instrument was procured by fraud or undue influence. In order to have any chance of success in a will contest, the objecting party needs a very good probate litigation lawyer, and that is expensive.

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I agree with my colleague. You would be required to establish sufficient facts to support the claim that your grandfather lacked testamentary intent or capacity, undue influence, fraud, duress, mistake or revocation. In Maine there are different standards of proof depending on the claim. For example, the burden of proof to establish lack of testamentary capacity is by a preponderance of the evidence whereas the burden of proof to establish fraud or duress is by clear and convincing evidence. In addition, the party who bears the burden of proof is different if the matter is litigated in the Probate Court or if the action is brought by way of civil suit in the Superior Court. You should consult with an experienced lawyer to determine the feasibility of pursuing this matter.


Very hard to contest, but retain a local estate litigation attorney to investigate.

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