How to check on the validity of a Will?

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How to check on the validity of a Will?

I was given a name of an attorney in CA to call when my step-father passed away. Later my step-father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and my step-mother was asking for my help finding a home for him, as he was letting to the later stages of his disease. Out of the blue I get a call from my step-mother who was excited she found a nice attorney in MT (where they retired) who made a new Will for them. I’m pretty sure she didn’t tell the new attorney they had an estate in CA and that my step-father had been under a doctor’s care for Alzheimer’s. My step-father passed away last month from the disease and even though there are provisions in the new Will for me when my step-mother passes away, I still can’t shake the feeling that legally and morally another Will should not have been made (2 to 3 years ago) without making sure my step-father’s wishes and rights were carried out. Should I contact the new attorney and asked if she was told he had Alzheimer’s and make sure his doctor was contacted to verify my step-father could enter into a legal contract? I try to put this matter behind me, but something just doesn’t feel right.

Asked on April 21, 2011 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am sorry for your loss.  I think that you may alreay realize that the Will executed by your Father in Montana may not be valid.  If your Father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and the disease was at the stage in which your Father lacked what is known as "testamentary capacity" to executor a Will, then the Will must be challenged.  You must have "standing" to challenge the validity and contest the Will.  And it a long and costly process.  In other words, the legal fees will be footed by you. I am in no way trying to deter you from speaking up for what you believe is right and for doing the right thing.  I just want you to be aware of what is involved.  Good luck to you.    


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