A person may contest a Will that is presented informally for probate. Informal probate is a procedure where a Will is presented to the registrar (not a judge) for consideration. In other words, there is no hearing before a judge. The registrar will review the probate application and Will and determine whether to accept the Will and make an appointment of a personal representative.
If the registrar does make an appointment of a personal representative through the informal probate procedure, then an interested person may initiate a formal proceeding (before a judge) to contest the appointment of the personal representative and the submission of the Will.
An interested person may contest a Will before the first of the following to expire:
1. 90 days after receiving notice of an informal proceeding
2. 12 months from the date the Will was informally admitted to probate or
3. 30 days from the entry of a formal order approving the accounts and settlement of the estate by an informally appointed personal representative.
Also, a challenge may be commenced by an interested person after the expiration of the above-stated limitation periods if an informal probate is closed informally (meaning the closing of the probate matter is not approved by a judge, but rather by the personal representative filing a closing statement) and notice of the informal probate proceeding was not properly given. Furthermore, the challenge must be commenced within five years of the decedent's date of death.
Samuel K.L. Suen is an attorney based in Honolulu, Hawaii specializing in estate planning, probate, conservatorship and guardianship matters.
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