There are many cases where an indiviudal may want to contst a will. If you are in tihs situation, do not wait to reach out to our firm today to discuss the details of your case with one of our skilled PA wills, trusts, and estates attorneys today.
Who is eligible to contest a will?
While laws vary from state to state, all state laws have requirements that must be met before a will contest can take place. The first requirement is “legal standing.”
The only person who has legal standing to contest a will and seek legal action for inheritance is someone who is:
- Named in the will
- Not a beneficiary but would inherit under the will if a judge deems the will invalid
Keep in mind that standing is the first requirement to challenge a will. You must either indicate that you were named in the will (or should have been) or show that you would have obtained something of value (normally money) if the individual had died without a will.
Those who are described in the will, also understood as a beneficiary can contest a will. This can involve a surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, and other relatives, but it can also include friends, faith communities, universities, charities, and even pets.
Heirs are generally the most named beneficiaries in a will. Heirs are relatives who would inherit even if the decedent had passed away “intestate” (without a will). Heirs include spouses, children, parents, grandparents, and siblings. Heirs can challenge a will if they were forgotten or were left with an extreme share in the inheritance. Heirs have the standing to contest a will because they would have obtained a share of the estate through the laws of intestate.
It is important to note that minors cannot challenge a will until they have reached the age of majority, which is typically 18. This is because minors are not lawfully able to start legal proceedings. A parent or guardian may prompt a lawsuit on their behalf.
When can a will not be contested?
Any will can be contested if you have standing and valid grounds to contest it. It is important to keep in mind that it may not be worth contesting a will. For instance, some wills include a “no-contest” clause. A no-contest clause states that if a beneficiary or an heir challenges a will and loses, they will not inherit at all. They are disinherited.
No-contest clauses are not implemented in each state:
- In some states, if you sue and lose, you can still inherit what you would have inherited if you had not sued.
- Some states enforce no-contest clauses unless the person bringing the lawsuit has a good reason to sue.
Give our firm a call today to learn more about how our attorneys can support you.
CONTACT OUR EXPERIENCED PENNSYLVANIA FIRM
Friedman Schuman is an experienced and dedicated legal resource for clients throughout Pennsylvania. Contact Friedman Schuman today to schedule a consultation.