As you prepare your will, you may begin to wonder if anyone would be able to challenge it after you are gone. While not just anyone can walk into a courthouse to contest your will, there are certain people who could have the right to do so. The individual would have to meet certain state laws before being allowed to challenge the will, with the first requirement being “standing.” Someone with standing is an individual generally named on the will, but it could also be someone else who might lose out because the will exists. The following are some individuals who might have standing to challenge a will.
Someone who you name in your will as a beneficiary will have standing after your death to contest the will. The individual does not have to be a relative, just as long as he or she is named as a beneficiary. This might include a spouse, a child, an aunt, a friend, and could also include a charity or a pet. The beneficiary would have to provide proof that he or she is the individual named in the will.
A legal heir is someone who would have received a portion of the deceased’s estate if he or she died intestate. In most cases, heirs are also listed as beneficiaries, but it’s possible an heir could be left out, whether purposely or by accident. If a legal heir feels he or she should have been given a portion of the estate, he or she could challenge the will. This sometimes happens when a will is written before a life-changing event, and the deceased individual fails to rewrite the will.
For example, if a woman writes a will that includes her two children, then gives birth to a third child a few years later, she may not have rewritten the will to include that third child before she died. The child could then contest the will, stating the mother did not intentionally leave him or her out. Another example would include a man who was divorced and remarried, but who failed to update his will and left everything to his first wife. His second wife may contest the will.
If a parent dies while a child is still a minor, that child typically can’t challenge the will until the age of 18. Each state has different laws regarding minor children and challenging a will, so it would be important the child had the assistance of a lawyer.
Learning More About Wills
Wills are an important part of life and death. If you are interested in learning more about wills, whether you’re creating one or feel you have standing to challenge one, contact a will lawyer in Sacramento today.
Thanks to Yee Law Group for their insight into estate planning and challenging a will.