Who Can Contest A Will? The Answer Might Surprise You

Posted by smith clea on August 8th, 2022

Who can contest a Will? It might seem like the answer would be very simple, but it’s not quite as simple as you might think. 

There are actually three different types of people who can contest a Will and they include:

  1. those who stand to gain from the will,
  2. those who believe they were unfairly excluded from the will, and
  3. those with an interest in seeing that someone’s wishes are upheld in the will or another formal legal document.

When You Die Without leaving A Will

If you die without leaving a will, your state's intestacy laws will determine how your property is distributed. 

Under intestacy laws, your spouse or registered domestic partner will usually inherit all or most of your property. 

If you have children, they will inherit your property if you don't have a surviving spouse or registered domestic partner. 

If you don't have any descendants, your parents will usually inherit your property. 

If you don't have any surviving relatives, your property will go to the state.

When Your Beneficiary Isn’t Your Spouse

Most people think that only a spouse can contest a will, but that’s not always the case. 

If you have children, they may be able to contest the will if they feel like they’ve been left out or unfairly treated. 

Other family members, such as siblings or cousins, may also have grounds to contest the will if they were close to the deceased and feel like they deserve a larger share of the estate.

When Your Beneficiary Is Also The Testator

If you're the only beneficiary of someone's will, you might think that you're also the only person who can contest it. 

But, that's not always the case. 

In some states, anyone who would have inherited under the deceased person's will if there had been no Will at all can contest the Will. 

That means that if you're not named in the will, but would have inherited it under the state's intestacy laws, you may be able to challenge the validity of the Will.

When You Make Your Beneficiaries Too Comfortable

If you make your beneficiaries too comfortable, they may not have any incentive to contest your will

After all, why would they want to rock the boat if they're already doing well? Yet, there are some situations where beneficiaries might be motivated to contest a will.

 Such as if they feel like they're being left out or if they think the will is unfair.

You Are Named As The Beneficiary But aren’t Related To The Deceased

If you are named as the beneficiary in a will but are not related to the deceased, you may still be able to contest the will. 

This is because the law recognizes that sometimes people put others in their will for different reasons than just blood relations. 

For example, you may have been close friends with the deceased or taken care of them during their final years. 

If you believe that you have a valid reason for contesting the will, you should speak to a lawyer to see if you have a case.

When There Are Many Beneficiaries Or Multiple Interpretations Of Who Should Inherit The Assets

If there are multiple beneficiaries named in the will, or if there are multiple interpretations of who should inherit the assets, then the court will have to determine who has the right to contest the will

The court will look at the intention of the testator, as well as the evidence presented by the parties, to determine who has the standing to contest the will.

About The Author

Clea Smith is a USA-based author on Legal issues related to estate planning, will & trust, business law, and elder law. Clea Smith does her best writing on these topics that help users to find the best solutions to their FAQ on estate planning attorney, probate, living trust vs will, and more about legal family issues.

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Joined: February 6th, 2020
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