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Who can contest a will?

It’s not uncommon for a will to be contested. After all, family members may feel as though they didn’t receive their fair share, or they might allege that the will was created under duress or via coercion. Only certain people can challenge a will in this case, such as those who can show they thy would suffer from personal ramifications if the terms of the will were carried out. TheBalance.com explains who can and cannot contest a will.

When a person dies without a will in place, their assets are dispersed to direct descendants by the state. This includes spouses, children, grandchildren, and finally distant relatives. Direct descendants have standing if a will is created and they’re not included in it. In this case, the disinherited heir may claim that the will was invalid or that he or she was left out in error. If the will is deemed invalid by the court, assets would be dispersed according to state law and the heir would likely receive a share in this case.

People named in previous versions of a will also have legal standing. The same situation would apply in this case as the above; the person would need to show that the will was somehow invalid to receive any assets. It can be difficult to establish that a will is invalid, especially when the document was created using professional legal counsel. Additionally, some wills have no contest clauses included, which means that those included in the will but unhappy with their share will lose it all by challenging the will.

Some people are simply unable to contest a will. People that fall outside of the above two categories typically don’t have legal standing. This includes unmarried partners, friends, business associates, and very distant relatives. Even if you have legal standing it’s difficult to provide evidence showing that a will should be thrown out.

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