Intestate Laws, Standing, and Challenging a Will
No one likes the thought of their wishes being ignored. If you writing your will, you may be wondering how ironclad your will is. Is it possible for someone to challenge your will and change who receives what after your death? This guide will tackle this complicated question and provide you with all the information you need.
Challenging a Will
Before answering this question, you may be reassured by some information about challenging a will. It is extremely rare for a will to be a challenge and it is even rarer for a challenge against a will to be successful. It basically only happens when there is a blatant injustice, so you almost certainly do not need to worry about this happening in your situation.
The first thing you need to understand is intestate laws. These are the laws that govern who received what in the absence of a will. Essentially, if someone dies before making a will, the intestate laws are a set of fundamental rules for distributing the belongings of the deceased. They vary from state to state, but generally, the spouse, children, siblings, and parents of the deceased receive the possessions in some order of priority.
Standing is a legal term that refers to whether or not someone has a valid claim to challenge a will. If someone does not have standing, then any challenge they raise against a will cannot be successful. One can have standing for a number of reasons, but valid challenges usually boil down to one of two types:
- Intestate challenge
- Will revision challenge
In an intestate challenge, someone has standing because they would receive possessions through intestate laws. This basically means that if someone would receive something had the estate owner died without a will, they can challenge a will that purposefully excludes them from the estate. Remember, this would only apply to those who are covered in intestate laws, which are usually only close family members. Unless a state’s intestate laws include them, extended family members and unrelated people cannot make this kind of challenge.
Will revision challenges revolve around someone who was set to receive something in a will, but a revision to the will excluded them. If these kinds of challenges are successful, the older version of the will may be used instead. These challenges are only possible if you planned to leave someone something and changed your mind.
There may be other ways to gain standing in your state. Speak with an estate planning attorney, like an estate planning lawyer in Philadelphia, PA, to learn more.
Thank you to Klenk Law for their insight into estate planning.