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When Is It Possible to Challenge a Will?

Nov. 7, 2017

A will is a great estate planning tool, but there are times that the terms of a will could come under scrutiny. Disputes over wills can make it difficult to settle an estate and allow New York families to move on after the death of a loved one, but there are times when it may be appropriate to challenge the terms of a will. There are only certain people who can legally challenge a will.

It is not possible to challenge a will simply because you do not like the terms of the agreement. For example, you cannot dispute the will because you believe the decedent should have done something differently, nor can you dispute a will just because you think you should have gotten more money. However, certain interested parties do have the right to challenge a will and seek a different outcome.

Who has the right to challenge?

Only certain people can challenge a will, and even then, they must have valid grounds to do so. Most of the time, the people who challenge a will are spouses, children and others who have a legitimate reason to assume that they have a rightful claim to the estate in question. If you are one of the following, you may have grounds to question the validity of a will:

  • Heirs: An heir is someone who would have a right to the estate if the decedent died without a will. Heirs are almost always children, spouses, grandchildren and other immediate family members.

  • Beneficiaries: A beneficiary does not have to be a family member to challenge a will. Beneficiaries are specifically mentioned in a will and have concerns about how asset and property division will work.

  • Minors: A minor may challenge a will, such as that of his or her parent or grandparent, but it may be necessary for the minor to wait until turning 18 to do so.

It is not easy to determine if you have grounds to challenge a will. If you believe that you are eligible to do so, you would be wise to have guidance and support as you work through this process.

Understanding your legal options

The laws and regulations pertaining to estate planning, wills and probate are complex. Challenging a will is not an easy process, and there is no guarantee that you will get the outcome that you want, but you may find it beneficial to seek an evaluation of your case in order to better understand the options available to you.