The term probate actually refers to the entire court process of divvying up the assets of a person after that person’s death.
However, when many Rocky Mount, North Carolina residents refer to a will being stuck in probate, they may be referring to situations in which a disgruntled family member or even a third party like a charity challenges a person’s will, alleging that the will is invalid.
The reasons people can challenge a will may vary. On the procedural level, the will may not be drafted according to state law in that it was not properly witnessed or there was some other fundamental error. Generally speaking, a person can head off challenges of this nature by having a North Carolina lawyer help with the drafting and execution of the will.
On a related point, a person may also want to have their attorney to work with them to be sure that all other copies of wills, especially prior wills, get destroyed. Confusion about which will come last in time can lead to probate litigation.
On a more substantive note, wills often get challenged on the grounds that the testator lacked what is called the mental capacity to make a will. In essence, this means that the person was too feeble minded or was suffering under a disability such that it would be impossible, or profoundly unfair, for them to be expected to execute such an important document.
There are other substantive grounds to challenge a will as well. For instance, fraud may have been in the mix so that a person signed a will based on perceived facts that were in fact nothing more than lies. On a related point, sometimes a person is the victim of undue influence, that is, unfair pressure from one relative or friend to write the will in a certain way.