When a person takes the time to create an estate plan, he or she will usually assume that people will accept the will and other portions of the plan. There are some cases in which wills can be challenged and these reasons are very specific.
Laws make it difficult to impossible for people who don't have an interest in the will to make a claim that would prevent the rightful heirs from being able to get what they are due. Whether you are thinking of challenging a will or you are the person who has to deal with the will contest, here are some points to remember.
Only qualified individuals can challenge a will
One of the first things to remember is that the person who is going to challenge the will has to be qualified to do this. Typically, anyone who would be entitled to a piece of the estate if the person died without a will is a person who can challenge the current will. There are some cases in which a person who was named in a previous will might be able to contest the will.
The reason for the challenge has to meet applicable criteria
Even if a person is qualified to challenge a will, one's claims for the challenge must meet applicable criteria. This means that individuals can't file a challenge based solely on the fact that they aren't getting what they want. Typically, there have to be claims based on reasons why the will shouldn't be valid. For example, showing the court that a person created the will under duress or undue outside influence would meet this criteria. Fraud, forgery and claims regarding the value of the estate can also be used to challenge a will. The presence of a more recent will is another possibility.
Potential drawback to challenging a will
Some wills have clauses that will set a penalty for contesting it. This no-contest clause will usually revoke a person's entire share of the estate if he or she contests the will unsuccessfully. While this might seem harsh, it is a way that people can try to ensure that the terms of the will are complied with.
A will contest isn't something that should be taken lightly. These cases can rip families apart, so anyone considering this path must think carefully before they proceed. If you decide to go ahead with the challenge, your next step should be determining if your case meets the requirements.