No one wants to imagine a situation in which a will contest is necessary, but unfortunately, sometimes there’s no avoiding it. A will contest allows someone to challenge the way in which a will distributes the assets of a person who has died. Like all states, Colorado has special rules regarding will contests, including who can bring them and how.
Colorado allows will contests only from an “interested party,” someone who is in a position to inherit from the will, who has valid grounds to do so. An interested party is usually a member of your immediate family or a spouse, but can also include charitable organizations, trusts or other people or entities.
Some of the most common reasons for will contests in Colorado include the following:
Testamentary capacity or intent: the testator (person who wrote the will) lacked the requisite “sound mind” or intent to create a will as required by Colorado law.
Undue influence: Someone pressured or took advantage of the testator.
Improper execution: Colorado wills must be signed by the testator and two witnesses; if these formalities were not carried out, this could be grounds for a will contest. Note, however, that Colorado does allow self-proved wills, which require witness affidavits at the time of signing.
Fraud, duress, mistake and revocation are other possible contentions.
In special limited cases you could also challenge a will that has provisions that take beneficiaries by surprise, such as excessively large or small bequests to individuals, large sums left to someone the family barely knew, or perhaps a family member was left out of the will entirely.
To proceed with a will contest, you must make sure you meet the above-mentioned criteria, i.e., you are an interested party and have a valid reason to challenge the will. The process for filing a will contest involves preparing a petition detailing your objections to the validity of the will and filing it with the probate court. You must include your name, address and position as an interested party in a formal, legal argument for the court.
Next, you should gather information that supports your claim against the validity of the will. Depending on your objections, this could include gathering documents or even witness statements. For example, if someone saw the testator signing the will under the pressure of someone else, you would want that person to testify at the court hearing.
Will contests can be quite complex, so legal representation of your interests may be very important. If you need more information about filing a will contest in Colorado, give BBU a call at 720-439-2530 or send a message to get started.