There are many situations in which an individual may feel that a will treats them in an unfair manner. It is not uncommon for potential heirs to feel cheated, left out or intentionally ostracized.
But not just anyone can contest a will, though. It is important to have standing and cause first.
Who has standing?
The Balance looks into who has the legal standing to challenge a will. This includes people included in a previous version of a will, such as beneficiaries, fiduciaries or prior executors. If the decedent ended up changing the will fairly recently before their death, then those people previously mentioned have the standing to speak out against the current will.
It also includes disinherited heirs-at-law. These individuals hold close relation with the decedent but for some reason ended up written out of the will. They would have benefited from the estate if the will did not exist.
What does it mean to have cause?
However, simply having standing does not guarantee that the individual can win the case to overturn the will. They must also have cause, proving that the will is invalid.
For example, say the decedent suffered from severe memory problems like dementia or other mental or physical disorders leading up to their death. If they created the will during a period where they did not have mental clarity, it is possible to get it declared invalid.
This also goes for cases of potential undue influence, where it seems like a manipulator took advantage of the decedent’s mental or physical health issues in order to gain a more favorable position in the will.