Contesting a will

More often than is generally known, wills - including notarised wills - are successfully contested. We advise you, taking into account the legal and medical aspects, as to whether a challenge has any chance of success and accompany you through any necessary legal disputes. Our lawyers specialising in inheritance law in Hamburg and Kiel will carefully investigate any doubts.

Contestation of the will by the testator

Contesting a will is usually not expedient for the testator and is therefore not possible. Instead, it is sufficient for the testator to revoke their will. This leaves the testator free to make a new will.

However, there are exceptions. It may be necessary for the testator to contest a will during their lifetime if they have bound themselves in an inheritance contract. The same applies if a joint will has been drawn up and the reciprocal dispositions cannot be revoked unilaterally.

In these cases, the testator is free to contest his or her own dispositions under the same conditions under which a third party would be able to contest the will. Only then can the testator effectively make a new will.

The lawyers specialising in inheritance law at Schneider Stein & Partner will provide you with comprehensive advice when drawing up a will and show you the advantages and disadvantages of an inheritance contract or a joint will.

Contestation of wills by third parties

In special cases, third parties can effectively contest a will in order to gain an advantage from the cancellation of the testamentary disposition. In most cases, these are bypassed legal heirs.

Third parties can only contest a will once the testator has died. In the complex issues of contesting a will after the death of the testator, it is a great advantage to consult an experienced law firm. The specialised lawyers for inheritance law at Schneider Stein & Partner have been competently assisting their clients since 1956.

Grounds for contesting a will

Wills are generally contested with the aim of cancelling testamentary dispositions that were drawn up by unlawful threat or whose wording is based on a misconception on the part of the testator.

Effect of contesting a will

If a will is successfully contested, the testator's declaration is cancelled. It should be noted that the presumed actual will of the testator does not regularly come into effect. Rather, the legal situation is then as if the contested will had never existed. For example, a previous testamentary disposition would become valid again.

"Contesting a will" follows "Interpreting a will"

Before a will can be contested, it must be carefully examined whether the reasons for contesting the will cannot be eliminated by interpreting the will. In principle, this does not depend on how the reader of the will to be contested would understand it, but on what the testator actually wanted. The wording is only the starting point for the interpretation; even a supposedly clear wording is open to interpretation.

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