The laws on Will contests in the Commonwealth of Virginia are fairly straight-forward: yes, a Will can be contested by any person who has even a remote interest in the estate which is subject to disposition by the Will. However, simply contesting the Will does not signify in any way that one will be successful in his Will contest. Will contests are filed for a variety of reasons – because someone was not provided for in the Will (“disinherited person”), or the person was provided for but believes he should have received more of the estate than what the Will provides to him (“disgruntled beneficiary”), or because there are concerns that the person who signed the Will was not of sound mind (lacking “testamentary capacity”), just to name a few.
In Virginia, there are applicable statutes of limitation that could bar a Will contest if it is not filed timely once a Will is admitted for probate.
Once a Will contest is filed, the filing has the effect of freezing the continued administration of the estate until the Will contest is resolved. Further, the individual filing the Will contest carries the evidentiary burden of proving the grounds as to why the Will should be set aside. Therefore, facts applicable to the case, as well as solid evidence, play a critical role in the pursuit of a Will contest.
Under Virginia law, a Will presented to the probate clerk’s office for recordation is presumed to be validly executed and representative of the intentions of the deceased person (“testator”) with regard to the disposition of real and personal properties to named beneficiaries. Thus, a person seeking to contest the Will carries the burden of proving why the Will fails.
The lawyers at Poole Brooke Plumlee PC are specialized in Will contests and other estate litigation. We have represented individuals seeking to contest Wills, and we have defended Executors of Wills who are named in Will contests.