In the state of Nevada, a Last Will and Testament is presumed valid – even if it was written by the deceased person themselves on the back of a napkin just days before their passing. In fact, a valid holographic will only requires 3 things to be valid: that it be hand written, hand dated, and signed.
This, of course, leads to potential problems. What if the deceased didn’t have the mental capacity to make a will? What if he or she was coerced or influenced by somebody to the point that the will doesn’t actually represent their true desires? That’s when the will must be contested.
The challenge of contesting a will in Nevada
Proving any of those things will be a fight.
Contesting a will in Nevada is basically just another form of litigation. The contestant is in the role of the plaintiff, and the petitioner for the probate of the will is filling the role of the defendant. The regular rules of civil litigation also apply to will contests. Each party can gather information about the other side’s claims in the “discovery” process using the usual litigation tools of “interrogatories” and through depositions. There is going to be an evidentiary hearing, which is a lot like a trial.
The contestant has to make their case very well. As described above, the judge is going to have the default view that whatever will exists is valid. Therefore to prove the will is invalid, your case must prove one of the following:
- the will was not properly signed and witnessed,
- the testator lacked mental capacity, or
- there was coercion or undue influence by somebody and therefore the will is not representative of the testator’s true desire.
The process of contesting a will in Nevada
First, you must have “standing” to contest a will, meaning you have the legal right to bring your challenge to the court. Nevada has strong rules about who qualifies as an “interested person” in these cases and is therefore qualified as to their standing. Basically you have to have some kind of claim to the estate.
Once a will is contested, the probate court will probably appoint somebody to act as “Special Administrator” to administer the estate until the contest reaches resolution. The special administrator is not to distribute the estate until after the case resolves. The special administrator must be a Nevada resident, or a bank, or a trust company (or be associated with one of those as co-Administrator).
The litigation will proceed along established rules for Nevada. It is important to have an experienced Nevada probate law firm help you. Litigation is complex, and probate only makes it more complicated. A will being “unfair” is not good enough to get it thrown out. You will need a team to build your case and present your evidence in a way that the probate court will accept.
If you need to contest a will in Nevada, please call us today.