Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Who can contest a will?
A. Someone named in a prior will who would receive less under the current will; a person who would inherit property if the decedent had died without a will, known as an heir; and certain creditors.
Q. On what legal grounds can a will be contested?
A. The will was not drafted and signed with the formalities required by law; the person making the will was legally incapacitated; the person making the will was unduly influenced by someone else; there was fraud in the execution of the will, such as where a person signs a will thinking it was some other type of document.
Q. Can the suitability of the person named as personal representative be challenged?
A. Yes. But there must be a significant reason for the challenge. The fact that someone does not like the choice made by the decedent is not sufficient to overturn the decedent’s choice of personal representative.
Q. Where is a will contest filed?
A. The Probate and Family Court for the county where the person was living at the time of death.
Q. Is there a time limit to file a will contest?
A. Yes. If formal probate proceedings have been commenced, an appearance must be filed in the Court by the person contesting the will prior to the return date. The return date is a date set by the court. The return date is usually a few months after the date the probate petition is filed with the court. Next, an affidavit of objections must be filed by the person contesting the will. The time limit for filing the affidavit is thirty days after the return date.
Q. Can other property arrangements, such as trusts and jointly-owned property be challenged if there appears to have been some type of wrongdoing such as undue influence or lack of capacity?
A. Yes. They can be challenged by filing an equity petition with the Probate and Family Court or with the Superior Court.
Massachusetts Will Contests