Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Rhode Island

Will Contestment

My grandmother created a will over five years ago. She owns a house and her two daughters who were to split everything equally. My Mom tried many times to discuss my grandmother's health and future with her sister. Since her health was declining, we were considering a nursing home or live-in nurse so she wouldn't be alone in her house. The sister's family didn't agree and cut off all ties with my family. They changed the locks so my family could no longer get in and grandmother's house was only three houses away from my Mom's for close to forty years. On September 2, 2003, we sent a letter to the sister's family asking to meet since my grandmother's vital signs were quickly dropping. On September 5th, the sister's family brought my grandmother to her lawyer and had her resign the will. All of her possessions were given to the granddaughter on the sister's side of the family since they listed her as the official caregiver although she had no prior healthcare training. On September 15, 2003, my grandmother died. We feel she wasn't in the right state of mind to change her will while her health was rapidly declining. Especially since she was blind in one eye and was losing her vision in the other.

Asked on 9/20/03, 1:05 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Staff General Counsel LawyersCollaborative

Re: Will Contestment

Contesting a will essentially asks that the probate court disregard all or a portion of a will, typically based on the argument that the donor, in this case your grandmother, did not intend to do what the will says. In this case, the argument would be that grandma did not really intend to disinherit her daughter, your mom, but only signed the will instead because her other daughter told her to do so, perhaps grandma not realizing what the will said or what the consequences would be after her death.

There is a sensible presumption that a duly executed will is valid and truly reflects the "donative intent". Having said that, though, if we could persuade the probate court that grandma really did not intend to disinherit mom, then the probate court might agree to disregard the will executed just days before her death as being the result of overreaching by your mom's sister and her side of the family.

Such a case is fact driven, and the facts you recite need to be fleshed out quite a bit more. Also, let there be no mistake that a will contest is a time consuming, expensive undertaking, that will cause some seriously bruised egos and personal animosity; not a case for the faint-hearted.

So, if your mom really thinks that grandma did not intend to disinherit her, then your mother should call me for an appointment and we can discuss her options. She may review my qualifications at our web site "". There is no obligation to retain our firm in any event. I may be reached at 401-941-7771, extension 13.

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Answered on 9/20/03, 11:40 am

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