The Moneyist: ‘I believe my ex-husband influenced my father to write me out of his will. He’s a narcissist and has turned everyone against me. Should I contest it?’
I took care of my not-so-kind father for almost two decades. My siblings were not around and didn’t offer much help. My father was emotionally and verbally abusive. He watched my ex-husband abuse me and my children and never stood up for us. He never paid child support, and allowed us to be raised by a cult when we were teenagers.
Three years ago, after my nephew took his own life, my father and I had a falling out that we never recovered from. I had encouraged him to go see my sister with me in California to comfort her. It was during this time that pushed me to the breaking point. I left him there at my brother’s house, and drove back to Idaho without him.
I had just gotten divorced about six months prior to this incident. After this happened, my father got a ride back to Idaho from my ex-husband. My ex-husband was stalking and harassing me, and the marriage was very abusive. My family sided with my ex-husband. He became my family’s savior because I was no longer able to care for my father.
My father recently died, and I believe my ex influenced my father to write me out of his will. He’s a narcissist and has turned everyone against me. They have locked me out of my father’s home and I have been pushed out. Do I have any recourse?
Thank you for any help.
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Your father chose other people to leave his estate to and wrote you out of his will, and your former husband and family chose to stick by each other at your expense. He may have done so at the urging of your ex. That has got to hurt, especially after enduring two difficult, volatile relationships.
But the sad fact is that — from what you say in your letter — your late father and ex-husband caused you great pain when they were in your life, and they did not treat you in a way that you deserved to be treated. They chose their own paths, but in the end you choose yourself.
Even without knowing the amount of money at stake and with the hope that you have enough money to live on, I don’t believe contesting your father’s last wishes will undo the sins of the past or, indeed, make up for them. It will be an expensive, emotionally draining process that will be extremely onerous to prove.
“It will be an expensive, emotionally draining process that will be extremely onerous to prove.”
To successfully contest a will, you will need to prove undue influence (that would entail your father being threatened or pressured to exclude you), show a lack of testamentary capacity on behalf of your father, or demonstrate that the will was in some way fraudulent or did not meet a legal standard in your state.
These are big asks. As Lane V. Erickson, an estate planning attorney at the Idaho law firm Racine Olson, says, “Anyone at any time could contest a written will. The real question is not whether you could contest a will but rather, whether you have any evidence where a court would find that the will is invalid.”
“If there are no real reasons that a court could find a written will to be invalid, then my advice and counsel to each individual who asks me this question is that it probably would be a waste of their time and money to try to challenge or contest the will,” he writes.
Consult an estate attorney so you can make an informed decision without any regrets. After years of uncertainty and turbulence, you have a chance to do something that seems unusual in your family: choosing a peaceful life. I know you are hurting, but please think very carefully about what you do next.
It could set the tone for the next chapter of your life. Sometimes, choosing to walk away and do nothing is the smartest decision of all.
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