One of the reasons why testators sit down to draft a will is to minimize the chances of their loved ones fighting over their estate once they pass away. Estate planning sometimes doesn’t have the desired result, however, especially when there are questions about the validity of a will.
Know that only interested parties can contest a will. You may find it helpful to learn who falls into that category as this may impact who can lawfully contest a will.
Who has the legal standing necessary to contest wills?
Each state has intestate succession rules in place that allow a next of kin to inherit a testator’s assets if they pass away without a will in place. These heirs, as well as those who a testator might have listed in previous wills, can contest a will. A testator’s beneficiaries, no matter whether they’re friends, charitable organizations or family members, may also fall into the interested party category and be able to contest a will.
Some jurisdictions’ laws may also allow for any heirs that went unlisted in a testator’s last will to contest their current one as well. Parents or guardians can contest a will on their minor child’s behalf.
While many wills are contestable as written, some savvy testators draft theirs to include a “no contest” clause. A clause such as this may allow for the automatic inheritance of any beneficiaries that contests a will.
Do you meet the requirements to contest a loved one’s will?
Finding out that a testator disinherited you from their will can be shocking. You may have legal options if this occurs, though. An attorney can go over the ones available to you that can aid you in recovering what’s rightfully yours — but it’s important to act quickly in these situations.