Tampa Elder Lawyer | Who Can Challenge a Will?
Tampa Elder Lawyer | If your family communicates well about all topics, you may already know what is in someone’s last will and testament, and how they want their estate distributed. But that is not always the case. Some family members are private about financial matters. Thus, the last will and testament can leave surprises, questions, feelings of confusion, and downright hurt feelings. This could drive someone to challenge the will. But not just anyone can.
Every state has a procedure for contesting a will in court, so consult a probate attorney to learn the details for your specific state. Generally speaking, before a person can contest a will they must have “standing.” Here are the types of people who may be deemed to have legal standing to challenge a will:
When someone dies without a will, they are said to have died intestate. Under the laws of most states, heirs of someone who dies intestate would receive a share of the estate. Usually, these heirs are those closely related to the deceased: a spouse, siblings, parent, child or grandchild. Thus, heirs who have been left out of a will are generally said to have the standing to challenge a will. Remember, however, that having standing does not guarantee that a challenge will be successful.
Beneficiaries in a Previous Will
If you were named in someone’s previous will, and come to find out your share is now reduced or cut out entirely, you may have standing to contest the current will. You would still be required to provide evidence as to why the current will is not valid.
Fiduciaries in a Previous Will
A fiduciary is a trusted person or institution designated to act on someone’s behalf. In a will, the fiduciary may go by another name, such as the executor or personal representative, depending on the laws of the state in which the will was written. If you were named the executor in a previous will, then find out you have been replaced, then you may have standing to contest the will.
Who Can’t Challenge a Will
Most challengers must fall into the above categories. In most instances, minors cannot initiate legal proceedings except under the guidance of an executor or guardian. So in most states, laws prohibit minors from challenging a will until they reach the age of majority (generally 18 or older). Likewise, a close friend or neighbor who feels like something was promised to him may not qualify.
It is not always easy to tell. Consult a probate attorney.