With the increase in complexity of today's family structures and the dynamics that can result, the family members of a loved one who has passed away often find themselves in a position in which they question the validity of their loved one's purported estate plan. The family members may doubt that the decedent's disposition actually reflects his or her wishes, and as a result, the family may want to challenge the will's validity. In order to successfully do so, the family members typically must file a will contest action. In such actions, the court is asked to disregard the decedent's will and instead provide a distribution of the decedent's estate which more closely resembles what the decedent actually intended. The family members must allege that there are grounds for setting aside the decedent's will, including the following:
- Undue influence—A will contest on the basis of undue influence involves the issue of whether the decedent, of his or her own free will, made the distribution provided in his or her estate plan, free from coercion by another individual. In Pennsylvania, a person challenging a will on the basis of undue influence must demonstrate the following elements: 1) a confidential relationship between the proponent of the will's validity and the testator; 2) the proponent of the will's validity receives a substantial benefit under the will; and 3) the testator had a weakened intellect.
“My husband and I are both in our 70’s so it was time to get something done. We have four children so we wanted documents prepared that would make sure they were all well taken care of in the future. We also wanted to make sure we were prepared financially in case either of us had to receive care in a nursing home or assisted living. The people at Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak were so warm and personable. Just about my entire immediate family came with my husband and me to see them. We were welcomed in such a comfortable and friendly way! I’d had other family members who’d received assistance there in the past and spoke so highly of the staff, so the choice was easy as far as who to go to. I can see why they came so highly recommended. I can’t say enough about having the peace of mind that comes when you know things have been taken care of and are now completed. My one daughter was a little apprehensive as to how all of this was going to get done but they met all of our needs. We now feel like the staff at Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak are a part of our family.”
Mary Jean Ayres, Troy, PA
“I’m so glad that I found out about Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak. A friend of a friend had used them and they came highly recommended. I required assistance right away so I called and they immediately made an appointment for me to come in. My mother was going into a nursing home, and I needed to find a way to pay for it. They listened to my concerns and worked out a viable plan, placing her assets into a trust. The annuity from the trust, together with her social security totally pays for the cost of my mother’s nursing home care. I couldn’t have asked for a better solution! The people at the firm were so patient and understanding with me. I knew nothing about trusts but they answered all my questions. They are so knowledgeable and enthusiastic to help people out. I even received their assistance with the closing of my mother’s house. The people at Steinbacher, Goodall & Yurchak are worth their weight in gold!”
Anne Ullom Alexandria, PA
“I went to see them because of my parents who are both in a nursing home. I was very pleased with what they did to help cover the bills. I really didn’t know what to expect, and if they’d be able to do anything. They made things so easy. I’d asked around and I was told that this law firm was where I needed to go. They came very highly highly recommended, and I can now see why. They stepped right in and helped to settle my parent’s estate, and make sure the nursing home expenses were paid. I’d tried to do some of the estate work on my own at first, and it was a lot harder than I thought. That’s why I’m glad I made the decision to get their help.”
Roger Baker, Williamsport, PA