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Who is allowed to challenge a will?

Wills are useful estate planning tools that enable you to leave assets to loved ones after you’re gone. These documents can be challenged in court, which is a common occurrence among many families despite the value of assets or property being dispersed. TheBalance.com explains just who is allowed to challenge a will.

Heirs named in a prior will

Circumstances can change during the course of your life. This is why many people revisit their wills to make important updates, either due to new marriages, divorces, or deaths in the family. If you’ve revised your will to exclude heirs that were previously present, they may have legal standing to contest future iterations. Former executors or fiduciaries can also challenge wills if their positions were revoked when the new will was created.

Disinherited family members

You may also remove heirs from your existing will due to extenuating circumstances. This can occur when a family member has a substance abuse problem, as the estate planner may feel that making a financial contribution will only serve to exacerbate those issues. Heirs are usually immediate family, such as spouses, siblings, and parents. If you lack immediate family, distant relatives (such as cousins, aunts, and uncles) may also have a claim.

Those who can show the will is invalid

While the above people have legal standing, that doesn’t mean that the court will decide in their favor. They must also establish a valid reason why the will should be thrown out. This can involve presenting evidence that a will is legally invalid, i.e. one that was not created in accordance to state or local statutes. They can also try to prove that the person who created the will was under duress at the time, was mentally incompetent, or didn’t actually sign the document. 

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