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All about will contests: Who can do it and when?

The right to contest a will is not an inherent one. For example, you cannot file a will contest against just any will. You usually need to be in a position of being a beneficiary or having the possibility of being a beneficiary of the estate involved.

In estate law, this is called being an "interested person." Interested persons are usually heirs, children, spouses, devisees creditors and others who might have property rights relating to the deceased person's estate. These interested persons may be able to challenge a will if the following conditions apply:

A beneficiary must have "standing" in order to challenge a will

In addition to being an interested person, a will contest filer must also have "standing." This means that the person needs to have been named within the will or, if the will were to be rejected, the person stands to inherit something from the estate.

Such individuals with standing could be beneficiaries of the estate. These individuals could be any number of persons named by the estate, including grandchildren, children, spouses, friends, charitable organizations and other people named in the will.

Others might be heirs. Heirs are people who would inherit some or all of the decedent's estate if a will were not to exist. Heirs might try to challenge a will, especially if they disagree with its method of dispensation.

In some cases, minors can challenge a will too. However, they may only be able to challenge the will after they reach the age of 18. Otherwise, minors cannot begin legal proceedings.

Consider "no-contest" clauses before challenging a will

Some wills are equipped with "no-contest" clauses in an attempt to prevent family infighting and will contests. Essentially, a no-contest clause could serve to disinherit someone who challenges a will. As such, if someone challenges a will and loses, he or she might lose the right to the inheritance that was expected under the original document, if any. That said, in many cases the no-contest clause will not be enforceable.

Do you want to contest a will?

Florida residents who want to contest a will should examine every angle of their circumstance before doing so. With a complete picture of the challenges at hand, interested persons regarding an estate can make an informed decision about how they should proceed.

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