Contesting a Will – 3 Key Issues

Issue 1: Standing

If you are wondering whether you can go to court today, find a probate case, and decide to challenge a Will, you are most likely out of luck. In order to challenge a Will in court you must have what is known as standing. Someone with standing has the legal right to challenge the Will in court, while someone without it cannot. Standing to challenge a Will comes if you would have received property if the testator had died without leaving behind a will, or if you had would have received property from a previous Will. Essentially, you must have stood to personally inherit from the deceased person before you can challenge a Will.

Issue 2: Grounds

Even if you have standing, that is not enough to file a Will challenge. You must also have grounds to challenge the Will. Grounds are the legal basis for your challenge, and you must be able to claim that you believe the Will is somehow invalid. Will challenge grounds usually involve showing that the testator failed to meet one of the legal requirements your state imposes on people who create a Will.

Issue 3: Time

It should come as no surprise that like any other area of the law there is a time limit associated with will challenges. Though the time frame differs considerably between states and depending on different factors, you must file a contest within a certain amount of time or the court will refuse to hear the case.