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Can You Contest a Will After Probate in Minnesota?

Understanding Will Contests in Minnesota

Contesting a will can be a complex process, especially after probate has been completed. In Minnesota, the ability to challenge a will post-probate is generally limited, but certain conditions might allow for exceptions. This discussion aims to provide clarity on when and how a will can be contested after the probate process is finalized. Contact us by either using the online form or calling us directly at 612-204-2300 to discuss the specifics of your case.

What is Probate?

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process by which a deceased person's will is validated by a court. During probate, the court oversees the distribution of the deceased's assets according to their will, or, if there is no will, according to state laws. Understanding this process is crucial for anyone considering contesting a will.

Grounds for Contesting a Will in Minnesota

To contest a will in Minnesota, one must typically be an interested party, such as a beneficiary or someone who would inherit if the will were deemed invalid. Common grounds for contesting a will include:

Grounds for Contest Description Considerations

Lack of Testamentary Capacity

Contesting that the testator was not mentally competent at the time of making the will.

Medical records and expert testimony may be required.

Undue Influence

Claiming that the testator was coerced or excessively influenced by someone else when creating the will.

Evidence of isolation, dependency, and the influencer's active participation in drafting the will are key.

Improper Execution

Arguing that the legal formalities for creating a valid will were not followed.

Witnesses and adherence to state laws are scrutinized.


Asserting the will was forged or the testator was misled about the contents of the document.

Proof must show intentional deception that influenced the testator's decisions.

  • Lack of Testamentary Capacity: Claiming the decedent was not mentally competent at the time the will was made.
  • Undue Influence: Alleging that the decedent was manipulated into signing the will under duress or manipulation.
  • Improper Execution: The will was not executed properly according to Minnesota's legal requirements.
  • Fraud: The will is a result of fraudulent actions.
Contesting a Will After Probate: Is It Possible?

Contesting a Will After Probate: Is It Possible?

In Minnesota, challenging a will after it has been through the probate process is difficult, but not impossible. The key factor is whether new evidence has come to light that could not have been reasonably discovered before the probate was completed. Here are some scenarios where contesting a will post-probate might be considered:

  • Newly Discovered Evidence: If new evidence that could significantly impact the will's validity is discovered after probate, a contest might be permissible.
  • Fraud or Misrepresentation: Evidence of fraud that only came to light after probate may also be grounds for reopening the case.

However, the time frame for contesting a will post-probate is very limited. Legal advice from a knowledgeable attorney is essential in these cases.

Steps to Contest a Will After Probate

Steps to Contest a Will After Probate

  1. Consult with an Attorney: Speak with an attorney who is experienced in probate law to discuss the specifics of your case and the likelihood of success in contesting the will.
  2. Gather Evidence: Compile all relevant evidence that supports your claim, focusing on anything that was not available during the original probate process.
  3. File a Petition: If advised by your lawyer, file a petition in the probate court that handled the original case, requesting to reopen the probate due to the new evidence.

Legal Challenges and Considerations

Challenging a will after probate in Minnesota involves navigating several legal hurdles and considerations:

  • Statute of Limitations: The window for contesting a will post-probate is limited. Understanding and adhering to these time constraints is crucial.
  • Proving Your Case: The burden of proof in will contests is on the challenger. You must provide clear and convincing evidence that there is a legitimate reason to question the will's validity after probate.
  • Potential Consequences: Contesting a will can strain familial relationships and potentially prolong the legal process, which might lead to significant legal costs. Consider these dynamics carefully before proceeding.
Contact a Probate Attorney in Minnesota

Contact a Probate Attorney in Minnesota

An experienced estate planning attorney can offer invaluable assistance in contesting a will, particularly after probate. Here's how they can help:

  • Evaluating the Case: An attorney can help determine whether there is a strong legal basis to contest the will and whether new evidence justifies reopening the probate case.
  • Navigating Legal Processes: From filing the necessary legal documents to representing your interests in court, an attorney can manage the legal complexities involved in contesting a will.
  • Advising on Strategy: Legal professionals can provide strategic advice tailored to the specifics of your case, helping you make informed decisions throughout the process.

If you are considering contesting a will after probate in Minnesota, it is crucial to act quickly and consult with a legal professional. Contact us by either using the online form or calling us directly at 612-204-2300 to learn more about your options and how we can assist you. Our team is ready to provide the support and guidance you need during this challenging time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the legal basis for contesting a will in Minnesota?

The legal basis for contesting a will in Minnesota typically involves one or more of the following: lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, improper execution, or fraud. Challengers must demonstrate that the will does not accurately reflect the wishes of the decedent due to one of these factors.

2. How long do you have to contest a will after probate in Minnesota?

In Minnesota, the time frame to contest a will after probate is very limited. It's crucial to consult with an attorney immediately if you believe there are grounds to challenge the will to ensure that you meet any statutory deadlines.

3. Can a will be contested if the testator was diagnosed with dementia?

A will can be contested on the grounds of lack of testamentary capacity if the testator was suffering from dementia at the time the will was executed, provided it can be proven that the condition impaired their ability to understand the nature of the proceedings, the extent of the assets, or the heirs and claims they were excluding or favoring.

4. What happens if a will contest is successful?

If a will contest is successful, the court may declare the entire will or part of it invalid. In such cases, the estate is then distributed according to the provisions of a previous will, if one exists, or according to Minnesota's intestacy laws if no valid prior will is found.

5. Are there alternatives to court for resolving disputes over a will?

Yes, alternatives such as mediation or arbitration can be used to resolve disputes over a will. These methods often provide a less adversarial and more cost-effective way to address disagreements among parties involved in the estate, potentially preserving family relationships better than traditional litigation.

Contact Us Today

For a comprehensive plan that will meet your needs or the needs of a loved one, contact us today. Located in Downtown Milwaukee, we serve Milwaukee County, surrounding communities, and to clients across Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and California.