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Mesa Probate Lawyers Who Can Win Will and Trust Contests

Our attorneys will advocate for your best interests

In Arizona, Wills and Trusts are often contested for a wide range of different reasons, and if your family is in this situation, you need help from an experienced Mesa probate lawyer at Brown & Jensen.

Our Mesa probate attorneys know how to manage crisis situations with integrity and determination. Attorneys Scott T. Jensen and Shad M. Brown understand Arizona's complex probate laws and know how to apply them to difficult Will and Trust contests. Protect your interests with the help of our Mesa law firm. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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    Who can contest a will in Arizona?

    In any legal matter, you need “standing” to pursue legal action; that is, you must show that you have sufficient connection to the matter at hand. To contest a Will, that means you must have a legitimate interest in the estate. Under Arizona law, “interested parties” may include:

    • Any person named in the estate planning documents, such as the personal representative (executor), trustee, or named beneficiary,
    • Any “heir at law,” meaning someone who would inherit if there were no Will, such as a surviving spouse, biological or adopted child, or other close family member,
    • Any person who could reasonably expect to inherit, such as someone who was named as a beneficiary in a previous version of the Will but omitted from the current version, and
    • Anyone with a stake in the deceased person’s property, such as a creditor or a co-owner of real estate.

    However, the laws governing eligibility to contest a Will are complex. Only an attorney can tell you whether you are allowed to pursue legal action.

    Can a living trust or irrevocable trust be contested?

    A Trust can be contested in much the same way as a Will, with a few important differences. First, most Trusts specify the method by which they can be changed; if there was a change made to the Trust that didn’t follow the specified method, then that change can generally be successfully challenged in court. Second, since Arizona law allows the trustor to specify whoever he or she wants as beneficiaries of the Trust, only those named beneficiaries have access to the Trust; in contrast, anyone who would be an heir without a Will has a right to see the Will.

    How to contest a Will in Arizona

    In order to contest a Last Will and Testament or other estate planning document, you must take the following steps:

    1. File a formal petition challenging the Will in probate court,
    2. Contact other interested parties, as listed above, and
    3. Provide proof that the will is invalid.

    Based on the evidence and testimony provided, the court will decide whether the Will is valid. If the court upholds the Will, then the deceased person’s assets will be distributed according to its terms. If the court finds the Will is invalid, then the court will instead distribute the assets according to the intestate succession laws.

    Those steps may seem simple, but each one is an intricate legal process that requires in-depth investigation and knowledge of Arizona probate law. An experienced attorney will put you in the best position to reach a successful outcome.

    Grounds to contest Wills and Trusts in Arizona

    Under Arizona law, certain legal grounds must be established in order to successfully contest a Last Will and Testament or other estate planning documents, including:

    • Lack of Capacity: The person who created the Will (called a "testator") may not have had the mental competency to create the document. This is usually established through a medical diagnosis, such as senility, Alzheimer's, or dementia.
    • Undue Influence: The testator may have been compelled or coerced by someone else while creating or altering the Will or Trust. Often, the undue influence enters late in the process and upsets a well-established estate plan.
    • Lack of Approval: The testator may not have known that the document he or she was creating was intended to serve as a Last Will and Testament.
    • Lack of Formalities: In Arizona, a Will or Trust needs to be signed by the testator, as well as witnessed and signed by two unrelated parties. If there is evidence that the document was not properly drafted, signed or witnessed—for example, because one of the signatures was invalid—that could be grounds to take legal action.
    • Fraud and Forgery: A Last Will and Testament may have been written or altered by someone other than the testator, or a signature may have been forged. Such claims, if proven, are clear grounds to contest the Will.
    • Breach of Fiduciary Duty: Someone who serves as a personal representative or trustee has a high fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the estate or trust. When a trustee or personal representative breaches that duty, there may be grounds for legal action.
    • Professional Negligence: Errors made by the attorney who drafted the Will, whether due to incompetence or simple clerical errors, can be grounds to contest the Will.

    Simply believing that something is wrong with a Will—or disagreeing with what it says—is not enough. You need specific legal grounds to take action, and you need an experienced probate attorney from our Mesa law firm on your side to investigate and find that information.

    How long do you have to contest a will in Arizona?

    The time limit to contest a Will in Arizona depends on the type of Will and the status of the probate process. Depending on a variety of factors related to your case, you may have anywhere from a couple years to only a couple of months. So, it’s in your interest to speak with an attorney as soon as possible to find out the applicable deadlines and protect your rights.

    Contact a Mesa probate lawyer for help during this critical time

    Whether you need to take legal action to contest a Will or respond to action taken by someone else, our Mesa law firm is ready to provide the legal counsel you need. Our Mesa probate attorneys have the experience and resources to handle complex cases, and we're ready to assist. Contact us today for a free consultation.

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