In Oklahoma, Can An Ex-Spouse Contest A Will?


There are circumstances where an ex-spouse can contest a will drafted by a former spouse. When dealing with the delicate matters of wills and estates in Oklahoma, it’s important to understand the specific legal avenues available. This is particularly relevant if you’re an ex-spouse wondering if you have the standing to contest a former partner’s will. Oklahoma law provides clear guidelines on who can contest a will and on what grounds a challenge can be based. Here’s more on some key laws that affect an ex-spouse ability to contest a will.

Will Contest Before Probate

Under Oklahoma Statutes Section 58-29, any person with an interest in the estate can appear and contest the will. This broadly includes devisees, legatees, or heirs, and yes, potentially ex-spouses, especially if you believe you have a financial stake or other interests in the estate. The law also allows for these individuals to contest the will through guardians or attorneys.

Proceedings On A Will Contest

When a will is contested, Oklahoma Statutes Section 58-41 requires the contestant to file written grounds of opposition and serve copies to the petitioner and other interested parties. The law allows for demurrer (a legal objection) on grounds allowed in civil actions. If the demurrer is sustained, the contestant is given time to amend their opposition. In case of an overruled demurrer, the petitioner and others may answer the contestant’s grounds. The issues someone can raise in a contest include the decedent’s competency, freedom from duress, fraud, or undue influence. There may also be issues related to the proper execution and attestation of the will.

Witnesses On Trial Of Contest

Oklahoma Statutes Section 58-43 basically requires that all subscribing witnesses that are both present and competent must testify. However, there are alternative means of proving the testator’s sanity and the will’s execution. This might include the use of depositions and proof of handwriting.

Causes For Contesting Will After Probate

Oklahoma Statutes Section 58-61 allows anyone interested in the will to contest within three months from the date the will was admitted to probate. Grounds for a contest can be fairly broad. They include the discovery of a later will, a lack of jurisdiction, competency issues, or improper execution of the will.

Costs Of Contest

Finally, it’s important to be aware of the financial implications of contesting a will. According to Section Oklahoma Statutes Section 58-66, the costs of the contest are generally paid by whoever is contesting the will if it is confirmed. However, if the probate is annulled and revoked, the person who objected the revocation could be responsible for costs, or the costs could be covered through the decedent’s property.

Impact Of Divorce Or Annulment On Wills In Oklahoma

An important aspect to consider, especially for ex-spouses, is the effect of divorce or annulment on the provisions of a will. Under Oklahoma Statutes Section 84-114, there are clear directives on how divorce or annulment impacts a will made prior to the dissolution of marriage.

Under this law, if the person making the will (the testator) gets divorced after making it, any provisions in the will that favor the testator’s now-divorced spouse are automatically revoked. This means that, legally, the divorced spouse is treated as if they had predeceased the testator with respect to the will’s provisions. The same legal treatment applies in the case of an annulment.

However, there are notable exceptions to this rule. This automatic revocation does not apply if the divorce or annulment decree is later vacated. Similarly, if the testator remarries their former spouse, the provisions in the will favoring that spouse are not automatically revoked. Furthermore, if following the divorce if there is a new execution of the will that includes the former spouse then the provisions in favor of the former spouse can stand.

For you, as an ex-spouse, this law has significant implications. If your former spouse did not amend their will post-divorce or annulment, and you were a beneficiary in the original will, this law effectively removes you from receiving any benefits under that will. It’s as though you were never a part of the will to begin with.

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Will Contest Lawyer In Oklahoma

As an ex-spouse in Oklahoma, you have the legal standing to contest a will under certain conditions. It’s vital to understand the legal grounds for such a challenge, the process involved, and the potential consequences. It’s also important to consult with an attorney who specializes in probate law. They can help you navigate the legal system, understand the strengths and weaknesses of your case. They can also guide you through the intricate process of challenging a will. An attorney can also advise you on alternative dispute resolution methods that might be less adversarial. This might include mediation, which could lead to a more amicable resolution. Kania Law Office has a wealth of experience helping clients resolve probate matters and estate disputes in Oklahoma. If you’re an ex-spouse considering a will contest don’t hesitate to contact Kania Law Office at (918) 743-2233 or online.

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