The right to challenge a will: What you should know

When you think about someone you love dying, the last thing you imagine is having to fight over his or her will. Despite that, many families do end up struggling as a result of changes to wills they never saw coming.

The fortunate thing is that anyone with a valid legal reason may challenge a will. Interested persons could include children, heirs, spouses, ex-spouses and others who could have a legitimate claim in the estate. Usually, those who file to contest a will are one of three things: Intestate heirs, beneficiaries who were listed in a prior will and the beneficiaries listed in the current will.

Heirs are a group likely to want to challenge a will. They may receive inheritances if their loved one dies without a will, so if they feel they've been omitted or left a disproportionate share of the estate, that could result in a will contest.

Minors may be able to challenge a will as well, but usually only once they reach age 18. Legally, minors are not able to initiate legal proceedings, except in rare cases.

Some wills have no contest clauses, which help cut down on the risk of will contests. No-contest clauses essentially guarantee that those who challenge the will risk losing everything. If they lose the challenge, they walk away with nothing. These clauses are usually not enforceable, so even if they are in the will, it may be worth issuing a challenge.

Your attorney can help you understand if you have a right to challenge a will. If so, you should do so quickly and with a good basis for doing so.

Source: FindLaw, "Who Can Challenge a Will?," accessed March 02, 2018

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