Can anyone contest a last will and testament?

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2019 | Firm News

Deciding to contest a will can be a serious action to take. The process can be emotional, time-consuming and expensive. It can also cause rifts in families. However, challenging a will is sometimes necessary despite the potential difficulties.

To contest a will, you must have an appropriate ground for your contest and be within the allowed time frame, but meeting these two requirements is not enough. You must also be sure you have appropriate standing to contest the will.

What does standing refer to?

Only certain people can contest a will. Those who are legally allowed to contest a will are those who have standing. Typically, the people who would be affected by the will’s terms are the ones who have standing. This helps prevent a random stranger from going after your deceased loved one’s money or dwindling down the estate’s assets in the legal process.

In California, someone who has standing is called “an interested person”. This term may sound vague, like it might refer to anyone who is casually interested in receiving money. However, California code lists specific relationships someone could have with the deceased to be considered an interested person.

What are some examples of people who can contest a will?

The term “interested person” specifically refers to the following people:

  • Heirs
  • Devisees
  • Children
  • A Spouse
  • Creditors
  • Beneficiaries
  • Those with claims against the estate
  • Someone who has priority for appointment as personal representative
  • A fiduciary representing an interested person

If you are connected to the deceased by one of these relationships, you have the appropriate standing to contest the will. If you also have an appropriate ground and are within the time limit, you may be able to move forward with the will contest.

Contesting a will can be a difficult process even if you meet all of the requirements. However, it can sometimes be the best way to make sure your loved ones true wishes are honored.