One of the key approaches to deciding on whether to challenge an estate is to look at it as an independent observer might.

If you are considering a challenge to an estate, you may find that the initial inquiry leads to the obvious answer, according to Market Watch column “My stepfather left $1 million to strangers and dead people.”

It is often very expensive and hard to be successful in challenging an estate, so it is always wise to consider it carefully including asking if the estate seems reasonable and if there are any circumstances that create suspicion.

In the case in Market Watch, a reader wrote in to ask about some instructions that his stepfather had left concerning a trust written a few days before the stepfather passed away. Instead of leaving any money for his wife of 60 years or any other close relatives, the stepfather decided to leave everything to relatives who lived overseas with whom he had no contact for years.

At least one of those foreign relatives was dead at the time.

While this is a pretty simple case of plans that do not on their surface appear reasonable to an independent observer, most cases are far less straightforward.

An estate planning attorney can advise you on the possibility of success and if it is a good move to challenge an estate.

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