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Who is allowed to challenge a will, and under what circumstances?

After a loved one or family member passes away, one of the most divisive and difficult moments of the event can be dealing with the will. This is a crucial document to the deceased individual's estate plan, and it dictates how much of the estate will be distributed and handled after he or she has passed.

Maybe the contents of the will weren't the way you imagined it; or maybe a procedural step in the process irked you and you want to contest the will. In any case, every day there are heirs and beneficiaries all across the country that feel compelled to challenge a loved one's will. But are they allowed to do that? Who can challenge a will, and under what circumstances?

The most important factor to understand here is "standing." If you want to challenge a will, you must be an interested party that has "standing." What this means is that someone must be a beneficiary (or be named in the will) or stand to lose or gain quite a bit as a result of the will being invalid. Without "standing," it is unlikely that your challenge will be accepted by a court. To that end, it is important to realize that most wills go through uncontested (or see their appeals dismissed by the courts).

But if you do have standing, you can challenge the will. Beneficiaries, heirs and minors can all challenge a will. Even if you are not a family member, if you are named in the will or stand to gain/lose as a result of the will, you can challenge. If you are a family member, you inherently have a stake in the will (or lack thereof). And if you are a minor and you have standing, you could still challenge a will too -- though it is highly likely you would have to wait until an appropriate age (most likely 18).

Source: FindLaw, "Who Can Challenge a Will?," Accessed Aug. 28, 2015

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