Who’s entitled to challenge a testator’s will?

| Apr 17, 2020 | Wills |

It’s common for there to be some unhappy people once the contents of a testator’s will are revealed after that individual dies. You must understand that not everyone is entitled to challenge a person’s will, and they’re not allowed to do so for just any reason either. Most jurisdictions only allow “interested parties,” or creditors, spouses, children, heirs, devisees or any others who may a claim to the estate or property of the estate, to do so.

Individuals that have the standing to challenge a will generally fall into one of three categories. They must be heirs to a previous will, beneficiaries to a subsequent one or intestate heirs. Both beneficiaries named in the will and anyone else who stands to lose or inherit based upon whether the will is deemed valid may also have a right to challenge it.

Beneficiaries generally have the standing to challenge the will. They don’t have to be relatives of the deceased to be able to do so either. Anyone named in the will is considered to be a beneficiary. This includes children, friends, spouses, grandchildren, other relatives, charitable organizations and even pets.

If a testator dies without a will, then their heirs would inherit a portion of the estate via intestate succession laws. This means that that individual would, in return, gain a right to challenge a will.

Beneficiaries in a will are also commonly heirs. The latter can challenge a will if they believe that they were left with less than their appropriate percentage of the estate or were altogether omitted from it. Any heirs who are minors generally need a legal representative to challenge the will on their behalf.

Some wills have “no contest” clauses in them. A beneficiary can become disinherited if they challenge any will that contains one of these. No contest clauses are not enforceable in most jurisdictions.

The process involved in challenging a will can be quite long and complicated. You must first present proof of your relationship with the testator and why you believe that you should have been a beneficiary to their will. Everyone else who was also slated to benefit from the estate may have their legal counsel that pushes back on your claims. An attorney here in Oakland County can aid you in forwarding your Michigan case when it seems that the chips are stacked up against you.