If your loved one died in Minnesota leaving a Last Will and Testament, you may have felt shocked when you discovered the provisions of that will. You may not have inherited the things or amount to which you feel you are entitled. Before you mount an official will challenge, however, you should carefully consider a variety of things.
To begin with, your dismay over your loved one’s distribution of his or her assets is not sufficient grounds. The property belonged to him or her and (s)he had the right to distribute it as (s)he saw fit. In addition, you must have standing to challenge the will; i.e., you must be a close family member of the decedent with a right of inheritance had (s)he died without leaving a will.
The most common ground for overturning a will is that the decedent lacked the testamentary capacity to make and execute it at the time (s)he did so. If you challenge the will on this ground, you must prove one or more of the following:
- That the decedent lacked the mental ability to understand the nature and consequences of his or her will
- That (s)he failed to understand the extent or value of his or her property
- That (s)he failed to understand who (s)he named as heirs and beneficiaries as opposed to those that people expected him or her to name
- That (s)he failed to understand what (s)he was giving to whom
- That (s)he failed to understand how all of the above worked together to result in a valid distribution of his or her assets
Another common ground for overturning a will is that someone was exerting undue influence on the decedent at the time (s)he made his or her will. For instance, suppose your loved one was ill, injured or otherwise incapacitated when (s)he made his or her will. Suppose further that (s)he had a live-in nurse or other caregiver who consequently spent far more time with him or her than you or other family members.
In a situation like this, it is quite likely that the caregiver gained your loved one’s trust. If (s)he used this relationship to his or her own advantage to the extent that your loved one’s will left all or a goodly portion of his or property to the caregiver, you may well be able to prove that the caregiver exerted undue influence over your loved one.