For many, the passing of a loved one can bring unforeseen conflicts that add to the grieving process. Issues may arise regarding the decedent’s estate that can create division among family members and, if these issues are not resolved, they will have long-lasting effects on relationships and possibly even financial matters. If you are having issues with a loved one’s will and you are wondering whether you have the right to seek legal action, note that there are some qualifying elements for will contests.

First, whether you can contest a will depends on your standing to do so. Generally, someone with standing is someone who is already listed on the will or someone who might otherwise be a beneficiary should the will prove to be invalid.

That said, beneficiaries may contest a will even if they are not a relative. They simply need to be named on the will. In addition to spouses and children, beneficiaries may include friends, organizations like charities or churches and synagogues.

Why might someone challenge a will?

Reasons to challenge a will vary depending on circumstance and relation to the deceased. You may believe your loved one was taken advantage of prior to updating their will, or that the will itself is fake. Arguments in contesting a will may include:

  • Forgery
  • Fraud
  • Undue Influence
  • There is a newer will that takes precedence
  • Questions regarding the decedent’s state of mind during the drafting of the will (or, questioning their testamentary capacity)

If you believe you have legitimate reasons to contest a will, understand that the process may be complicated and you will need evidence and standing on your side.