Determining who has standing in a will contest

On Behalf of | Jun 28, 2023 | Estate Planning, Will and Trust Contests

Assets that remain in your estate after you pass away are generally subject to probate. During this process, it’s possible that one or more parties may decide to challenge your will. However, only those who have standing to do so will have their challenges heard.

Family members may challenge a will

Typically, the direct family members of a deceased person are considered actual or interested parties to a will. Therefore, they will have an opportunity to challenge the document if there are grounds to do so. Direct relatives generally include the decedent’s spouse, children and parents. Siblings may also be classified as direct relatives for purposes of a will contest.

Anyone included in the will might have standing

Those who are included in a will typically have standing to engage in estate litigation because they stand to benefit from the deceased person’s estate. Furthermore, those who were included in a previous version of a will might have standing to pursue a challenge. This is because they would stand to benefit from the estate if the version that includes their names was restored as a valid document.

Grounds for a will contest

A will contest is likely to be thrown out if there aren’t valid grounds to pursue it, and this is true whether or not a party has standing to pursue one. Valid grounds for a challenge include undue influence or the fact that the testator was not of sound mind when the document was created or edited. It may also be possible to claim that the document isn’t valid because it wasn’t structured in accordance with state law.

If a will challenge is successful, you may receive money, land or other assets from a deceased person’s estate. However, it is important to recognize that the cost of defending against the claim is paid by the estate itself. Therefore, even if there are valid grounds for legal action, it may be best to refrain from taking it.