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Which People Have Standing to Dispute the Terms of A Will?

Oct. 22, 2018

A will is a document written with the intent of allowing a person to outline how he or she wants to distribute assets and wealth after passing. In some cases, wills are straightforward and simple, and a New York family and beneficiaries can complete this process with few complications. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

There are times when it is beneficial or even necessary to challenge the terms of a will. However, not just anyone can formally challenge what is in a person’s will. Only certain parties have this ability, and if they want to take this step, they will find it beneficial to seek appropriate guidance before moving forward.

Disagreement Over an Estate Plan

It can be quite complex for a family and beneficiaries when there is a dispute over what is in a will or the described distribution of assets. Random people cannot challenge a will just because they do not like the terms of it – only certain people can do that.

Three main categories of people can effectively and rightfully challenge a will, and they include beneficiaries of a previous will, beneficiaries of the current will and intestate heirs. These broad categories include the following specific individuals:

  • Beneficiaries have the appropriate standing to challenge a will. These are people named in the will or in an earlier will, and they often include spouses, children and other family members.

  • Heirs include people who would likely receive a share of the estate if the deceased died without a will. While heirs are often in a will as beneficiaries, this is not always the case, and leaving them out can lead to a dispute over the terms of the estate plan.

  • Minors who have a vested interest in the terms of a will or the distribution of the estate’s assets may have grounds to challenge the will. In most cases, the minor cannot do this until he or she reaches the age of 18.

Problems with an estate and other complications can lead to costly and stressful legal battles. It is in your interests to work to resolve these matters effectively and in a timely manner.

Families facing challenges related to a loved one’s will or other estate planning concerns would be wise to have help as they work through these difficult issues. Estate laws are complex, but when you have guidance from an experienced attorney, you may be able to avoid mistakes and missteps that can keep you from your goal.