How to Start a Will Contest in Virginia

How to Start a Will Contest in Virginia

When it comes to contesting the validity of a will in Virginia, it is important to note that there must be reasonable grounds for doing so. A mere displeasure or dissatisfaction with the contents of a will is not enough to contest its validity. Further, a will contest under Virginia law requires that the person contesting a will to be an “interested person”. Generally, this means that the individual must be someone who is entitled to receive property under the will or under Virginia’s intestate laws, such as a spouse, child or other close relation.

The principal reasons for contesting a will include the following circumstances: the will signed under duress or the person signing was intimated into signing the will, the decedent did not have the mental capacity to sign the will, the will was forged, the proper statutory requirements were not met either in the drafting or execution of the will.

If a person is both an interested party and has reasonable grounds to contest a will, there are two options. The first option is to appeal the clerk’s order admitting the will to probate in the circuit court that has jurisdiction over the decedent’s probate estate within six months of the court order approving the will.  The second option gives an interested person the right to file a complaint to impeach a will within one year from the date that it is offered to probate.

It is important to note that there are some limited exceptions to these rules. For example, if a person was a minor child or suffered a legal or mental incapacity at the time of probate the one year statute of limitations may be extended to one year after the individual has reached the age of majority, or gained legal capacity.  It is vital that interested persons seek competent legal advice to understand the specific rules and requirements applicable to individual cases.

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