What can my husband do if his stepmom passed away and left him a percentage of her estate in her Will but her niece contested it since she was not left anything?

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What can my husband do if his stepmom passed away and left him a percentage of her estate in her Will but her niece contested it since she was not left anything?

This has been going on for around 9 months. The niece is trying to say that my husband’s stepmom was pressured into changing her Will. Nothing changed in her except she changed the executor. The executor she had named was her brother, he passed away before her. She named someone else as executor. We still have a copy of the original Will before it was changed.

Asked on March 27, 2014 under Estate Planning, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

If she's contested it in court, then the estate, through the executor, should retain an attorney (a trusts and estates or probate lawyer) to defend the matter; or if the estate does not defend it, as a beneficiary, your husband could retain an attorney and intervene in the matter to defend it. (Obviously, that's only worth doing if the amount involved is large enough to justify the cost of a lawyer.) While the niece would have to affirmatively prove the existence of "undue influence" to prevail, if no one opposes the matter, she has a better chance of doing so.

If she hasn't brought a court case and is just talking this up, you can either ignore the matter--only a court can change or invalidate a will--or, if she is saying anything slanderous (for example, that you husband pressured his stepmom), you could sue her for defamation.


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