LEGAL CORNER: In Louisiana, can a will be contested?

Published: Aug. 9, 2023 at 1:02 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Legal Corner answers viewers’ civil legal questions.

QUESTION: What should an employee do if his employer had a sewage line connected to the water line for all of their offices? The sewage line was connected for over one month without anyone’s knowledge and people washed hands, washed dishes, and cooked food with said contaminated water. Many have gotten sick, not knowing what had caused them to become ill. It appears a contractor was installing a sewer line and live-tapped a water line.

Should I seek legal advice from a lawyer?

ANSWER: Yes. In this case, you have more than just a potential personal injury, or injuries, to the many employees at this location. There could also be environmental impact that resulted from the contaminated water being used. So there may be a need to contact environmental agencies, such as DEQ in the state of Louisiana, or even the La. Dept. of Health and Hospitals. On the federal level, you may need to contact the EPA. But an attorney would be able to guide you regarding the appropriate pathways you would need to take in order to have the matter addressed.

QUESTION: In Louisiana, can a will be contested? How is a will contested, and what are the reasons for contesting it?

ANSWER: Yes, a will can be contested in Louisiana.

Only people with an interest in the outcome of a succession case can formally contest a will in Louisiana. If a person has: (1) a legal reason to challenge the validity of the will; and (2) the right to inherit property either through the will or Louisiana’s laws of intestacy, he may talk to a lawyer about contesting the will.

After a succession case is opened, one can file an objection to the succession petition with the appropriate court.

  • The person making the will was under undue influence. The testator must want to make the specific provisions in the will. If the testator was pressured or unduly influenced to create the will or to include a specific provision, the will may be contested on the grounds of undue influence.
  • The will was not created in accordance with Louisiana law. Louisiana has specific requirements about how to make a will. If a formal requirement for creating or executing a will was not met, there may be grounds for contesting the will. The person contesting the will has the burden of proving it does not meet the legal requirements and should be set aside.
  • The testator lacked the mental capacity to create a will.  Mental capacity means the testator generally understands the nature and consequences of creating a will and the provisions of the will. One must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the testator lacked this capacity at the time the will was executed. Evidence may include medical records from around the time the testator created the will, lay witness testimony, and expert witness testimony.

QUESTION: What are the procedures applied in an adoption?

ANSWER: Generally, the first stage determines whether the natural parent’s rights may be terminated. The second stage is an independent determination as to whether the adoption is in the child’s best interests.