When you know a loved one planned to leave money or assets to you in their will, it can be shocking to learn at the reading that there are no provisions for you in the document. While people can change their minds and adjust their wills accordingly, it may seem suspicious to be cut out after months or years of assurances. Here are two things that you can do if you were expecting an inheritance but didn't receive it.
Contest the Will
As cliché as it sounds, contesting the will is a good option for recovering your inheritance because it lets you attack the problem in a variety of ways. For instance, you can get the will invalidated based on the testator's mental state if you feel they were unduly influenced when the document was written. Another angle is forcing the estate administrator to distribute assets based on other laws (e.g. some marriage laws require the estate to give spouses a share of the assets regardless of what the will says).
Be aware, though, that challenging a will is not a quick or easy process. It will take time for the case to make its way through the courts. Additionally, other beneficiaries will likely counter your claims or initiate challenges of their own.
It's essential, then, that you hire an estate attorney to help you navigate this turbulent time. The lawyer can help you make the right moves to avoid common problems and achieve the outcome you want.
Sue for Loss of Inheritance
Unfortunately, sometimes wills are challenge-proof, which means that contesting the document is unlikely to result in a successful outcome for you. In this case, an alternative option for handling this situation is to sue for loss of inheritance. This statute lets beneficiaries recover damages in cases where they have lost their inheritance because of another person's actions or negligence.
For example, if a family member told your religious grandparent a lie about your sexuality and, as a result, the grandparent cuts you out of the will, then you can use personal injury laws to hold the family member accountable for the lie that caused you to lose the money and/or assets you would've received.
Using this method can be tricky because you must both prove you were a beneficiary or heir and that your losses can be directly attributed to the defendant's actions. This can be challenging depending on the circumstances, so it's a good idea to contact a lawyer before deciding to sue. The attorney can review the facts of the case and let you know what you need to do to prevail.
For more information about this or other estate law issues, contact a local probate attorney.