Who Has The Right To Challenge A Will?

March 24, 2019 in Uncategorized | MARTIN WREN, P.C. | LEAVE A COMMENT

Will Challenge Lawyer

As a will challenges law firm, we frequently receive inquiries about contesting a will. One of the most common questions that arise is “Who can contest a will?” What we tend to advise is similar to the following information. We would like to remind our readers that every state has its own laws and there could also be mitigating factors that apply to your own situation. If you are considering challenging a will or you recently found out that a will is being challenged, please call our will challenges law firm today.

Who Has the Right to Contest a Will?

In order to contest a will, you must be personally and/or financially affected by the terms and provisions in the will – if it were to be accepted by the [location] court as it currently stands. These people are legally said to have a “legal standing”; therefore, you would have to be at least one of the following:

Disinherited Heirs-At-Law

When you are an “heir at law” you are considered to be someone who is closely related, typically an immediate family member, to the decedent and believes they would have received a portion of the estate had the deceased not left a will. In general, heirs at law are considered to be a spouse, child, or grandchild. In some cases, distant family members apply, but this is usually only true when the decedent was not married and did not have any living immediate family members.

If you believe you are an heir at law, you will almost certainly have standing in a will contest. However, it does not mean you will win your case. You will have to show that the will is not valid or that you were not intentionally cut out of the will.

There Was a Prior Will

If you have been named in an older will, but are not named in the most recent will, you may have legal standing to contest the document. Just as in the case of an heir at law, you will need to prove that the new will is not valid for a legal reason.

Who Will Not Be Able to File a Will Contest?

As a will challenge lawyer might explain to you, not everyone who was involved in the decedent’s life will have the right to contest a will. Just because you might have been a friend, lover, or relative of a person who thought they would be named in a will, but was not, doesn’t mean you can challenge it. The following people may be able to challenge a will:

  • Beneficiaries of a prior will
  • Beneficiaries of a subsequent will
  • Intestate successors

It should be pointed out that some wills include a no contest clause. What this means is that if any beneficiary files a will contest, and loses, they may also lose any of their inheritance – that is if they were not happy with the current inheritance. If they were cut out of the will all together, this clause would not really matter.

Will contests are relatively complex and should not be handled without a will challenges law firm.


Contact Our Virginia Lawyers

We serve clients throughout Virginia — from Charlottesville and Central Virginia to metropolitan Richmond; Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley to Roanoke; and the cities of Hampton Roads to the Northern Virginia cities of  Fairfax, Alexandria and Arlington.

To speak with one of our attorneys, please call us at (434) 817-3100.

Our Virginia personal injury lawyers at MartinWren, P.C. have a statewide practice and offer free consultations at a time and location that is convenient for you.  We will gladly meet with you at your home or at the hospital, even on nights and weekends.


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