In theory, when someone passes away, their will offer some direction to their heirs as they go through the probate process. It can tell them what the deceased person would have wanted, how the assets are to be split up and things of this nature.
When someone doesn’t agree with this will or thinks that it is inaccurate or fraudulent, they can sometimes challenge the will. For example, one of the person’s children may believe that another party used undue influence on their parents to get them to alter the will. If they can show that this took place, they can challenge the will to try to get those changes declared invalid.
Who can open up this type of challenge? Can anyone do it?
As you may have guessed, not just anyone can challenge a will. The person needs to have something to gain, and they have to have proper legal standing. This generally means that they either need to be named in the will or they need to be someone who would gain financially through the challenge — if it is successful. These people could be beneficiaries, heirs, creditors and more.
Most will challenges come from family members. But someone who is not a family member may be able to gain financially if alterations to a will were not in their favor. For instance, perhaps a family friend was removed from a previous version of the will. If they had never been included, they couldn’t challenge, but their removal gives them legal standing to challenge if they think it was fraudulent.
Situations like this can get very complicated, and it’s critical that all involved understand the legal options that they have.