Who Can Challenge a Will?

Although wills can sometimes be challenged, but not everyone can do so. Basic probate laws dictate that only interested persons can challenge a will, and they can only do so for valid legal reasons. You can’t just challenge a will simply because you feel that you did not receive a fair share. Interested persons are:

  • Children
  • Spouses
  • Heirs
  • Creditors
  • Devisees
  • Others having a property right or claim against the property being administered

The abovementioned fall into three main categories: (1) intestate heirs, (2) beneficiaries of a prior will, and (3) beneficiaries of a subsequent will.

Standing

Depending on the laws of the state, there are requirements that need to be fulfilled before contesting a will. One important requisite is standing. A person with standing to contest a will is usually a person who is either named in the will as a beneficiary, or not a beneficiary but would stand to lose or gain if the will was determined to be invalid.

Beneficiaries

Beneficiaries, regardless of their relationship with the deceased, could challenge a will. As long as they are specifically mentioned in a will as a recipient of money, property or any inheritance, they have a standing to contest the will.

Heirs

The heirs can challenge a will because the heirs could inherit from the deceased through intestate succession if the person died without a valid will. Heirs may either be named or not in the will. Sometimes, being left out of a will may be a reason for them to challenge the document’s validity, or if they believe they did not get their legal share.

Minors

Minors can challenge a will but only after they reach majority, which is usually 18 years old. The reason for this is that minors cannot legally initiate legal proceedings.

‘No Contest’ Clauses

A no contest clause could disinherit a person out of a will because it basically makes a take-it-or-leave-it statement which means that any beneficiary who will contest the will could stand to lose any right to inherit. This clause is usually unenforceable in most states. Anyone who has a standing may still challenge the will if they have a valid reason to challenge it.

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