What do I need to do to contest a will?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What do I need to do to contest a will?

My father had made a will leaving everything to my oldest
sister. When we found out she was also terminally ill, he
expressed an intention to make changes, some in my favor.
He died unexpectedly before he had the chance to amend the
will. My next oldest sister has every intention of leaving
me in the cold, for her own personal reasons. Do I have any
recourse in this matter?

Asked on December 29, 2016 under Estate Planning, Iowa


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, you do not have any recourse in this situation. From what you write the initial will apparently was valid, or at least you have not described any problems with how the first will (the one leaving everything to your sister) was created--you have not claimed your father was mental incompetent at the time, was coerced into making it, etc. What you want is to give effect to "will" that was never actually made. The law does not let you do that: while there are some grounds to invalidate a will, such as mental incompetence or coercion/duress, there is not way to give effect to a will that was never actually made. So there is no way to give effect to the amendment your father never had the chance to make; and if there were no defects with the existing will, it will be given effect and everything will go to your sister.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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