Hamer Law Group - Probate, Estate & Litigation Attorneys - Alabama
Attorneys for Probate, Estate, Trust, Conservatorships/Guardianships, and Civil Litigation.

Will Contests

Will Contests & Disputes

Wills may be contested by an interested person in probate court or in circuit court. If the will on its face does not meet the statutory requirements (signed by the testator before two witnesses), then the will should not be admitted. A will can be contested on any of the following grounds:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity

  • Undue Influence

  • Legal Technicalities

  • Fraud

Grounds for Contesting a Will

Will Contests in Probate Court

A will may be contested in probate court by any interested person who would inherit if the testator had died intestate. The contestant must file written allegations that the will was not duly executed, or that the testator lacked testamentary capacity or any other valid objection. In all non-equity probate courts, a will contest must be filed un the probate court before the will is admitted to probate. ALA. CODE § 43-8-198. the exception to this rule is counties where the probate court has equity jurisdiction concurrent with the circuit court in the administration of estates.

Will Contests in Circuit Court

ALA. CODE § 43-8-199 permits the initiation of a will contest in circuit court. A probate court’s judgment rendered in a pre-probate will contest can be appealed to the circuit court under ALA CODE § 12-22-21. A will contest in circuit court must be initiated within six months of the admission of the will to probate in probate court. The final judgment in circuit court is conclusive to all matters and no further proceedings can be entertained to either probate the will or contest the probate of the will.

In Terrorem Clauses

These clauses are provisions in a will that threaten to dispossess any beneficiary who challenges the terms of the will. If an individual contests a will which contains one of these clauses and loses, then such provision may provide that they forfeit their devise.

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