What You Need to Know about Contesting a Will in Kansas

Losing a loved one can be a very difficult event for a family. This delicate time can be made even more trying if you believe that your loved one’s will does not accurately set forth his or her wishes. If you are considering filing a case to have a loved one’s will set aside, here is what you need to know about will contests in Kansas.

Who can contest a will in Kansas?

In Kansas only an heir or a beneficiary to a will can file a will contest with the probate court. An heir is a person, usually a relative of the deceased, who would be entitled to an inheritance if a will did not exist or if the will is deemed to be invalid. A beneficiary on the other hand, is a person who is named in the will and is due to receive a portion of the deceased’s estate. For example, Wife dies and in her will she leaves her entire estate to her two children. Her husband is to receive nothing. Per Kansas law her husband would be considered an “heir” because he would have the right to receive a portion of the Wife’s estate, however is not listed to receive any of the Wife’s estate in the will. The only beneficiaries would be Wife’s two children.

When can a will be contested?

A will can be contested for various reasons or “grounds”. The main grounds for a will contest fall into one of following three areas:

  • Deceased lacked testamentary capacity. In order to be able to execute a will a testator needs to have the necessary mental capacity—which includes knowing his or her assets and heirs. If the testator has a mental illness which robs him of the knowledge of this necessary information, then it may be possible to have his will set aside.
  • Lack of compliance with execution requirements.  In order for a will to be valid it must have been properly executed. For example, a will that was not witnessed by two witness may be able to be set aside for failing to comply with execution requirements.
  • Fraud, coercion, duress, and undue influence. These categories are all lumped together because these grounds produce wills that are not the product of the testator’s wishes but that of a meddling third party.

Do I need to hire an attorney to contest a will in Kansas?

Under Kansas law, an individual may represent his or her own interests, though it is highly advisable for a person to hire an attorney that is experienced in the area of probate law. Probate law is a complex area of law and contesting a will is no simple feat. A knowledgeable probate attorney will not only thoroughly review your case with you but also make sure you understand the possible risks and rewards associated with filing a contest. For example, in some instances a contestor may have a valid case to have the will set aside, based on one of the aforementioned grounds. However, if the amount the contestor would receive is far less than the cost of pursuing the case, then it is up to the contestor to decide how he or she wants to proceed.

Are there any time limits for contesting a will?

Yes. Kansas law requires that an heir or beneficiary must file his or her contest no more than four months from the date of first publication to the creditors. This deadline is shortened to a mere 30 days if the identity of all creditors is known. Either way, there is not a lot of a time for an heir or beneficiary to file his or her contest with the court. This another reason why anyone who is considering filing a contest hire an experienced probate attorney. Failure to meet a filing deadline could result in the contest not being able to be heard by the court.

If you feel that your loved one’s will does not accurately represent his or her wishes, and you would like to contest it, contact Kansas attorney Charles E. Whitman of the Whitman Law Offices at (785) 843-9460. You can also visit us online to schedule your free consultation.  During your initial consultation, we will thoroughly review your case with you and advise you of your legal options. With over 35 years of experiences, trust your probate matters to attorney Charles E. Whitman and the Whitman Law Offices.

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