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Who Can Challenge a Will?

Not everyone can challenge a will. For instance, you cannot challenge your cousin’s will just because you believe his estate would be better off in the hands of another relative. In addition, you cannot contest a will just because you do not believe you received a fair share.

Who Can Challenge a Will

According to Utah probate law, only “interested persons” may challenge a will – and even still only for valid legal reasons. The Probate Code identifies “interested persons” to include children, heirs, devisees, spouses, creditors, or any others having a property right, or claim against, the estate being administered. Therefore, those who may challenge a will generally fall into one of three main categories: (1) beneficiaries of a prior will, (2) beneficiaries of a subsequent will, and (3) intestate heirs.

You Must Have Standing to Challege a Will

While state laws vary from state to state, all states have laws that must be met before a will contest may take place. The first requirement is “standing”. A person who has “standing” to challenge a will is typically someone who is named on the face of the will (such as the beneficiary) or someone who is not the beneficiary, but who would inherit (or lose) under the will if the will was deemed invalid. Standing is the first requirement to overcome to contest a will. You must either show that you were named on the will (or should have been), or show that you would have received something of value (typically money) if the person had died without a will.

Are you a Beneficiary of the Will?

Beneficiaries have standing to challenge a will, whether or not they are relatives of the deceased. Beneficiaries are those who are named in a will and can include your spouse, children, grandchildren, or other relatives, but can also include friends, charitable organization (like churches, synagogues, and universities), charities, and even pets.

Are You one of the Deceased Heirs?

Heirs have standing to challenge a will because if a testator dies without having a will, heirs would receive a share of the estate through the laws of intestate. Heirs are the most commonly named beneficiaries to a will. Heirs are relatives who inherit under a will when a decedent dies “intestate”, or without a will. This typically includes spouses, children, parents, grandparents, and siblings. Heirs can challenge a will if they believe there were omitted or left with a disproportionate share in the will.

Are you a Minor?

Under some laws, minors who would like to challenge a will may do so, but only after they reach the age of majority (typically age 18). This is because minors are not legally able to initiate legal proceedings, except under the guidelines of an executor or court representative.

Does the Will have a ‘No Contest’ Clause?

Wills sometimes have what is known as a “no contest” clause as a condition of the will. A “no contest” clause has the effect of disinheriting someone out of a will. If a beneficiary losses a challenge under the will, the beneficiary may be left out from inheriting under the will, thus disinheriting the will. Because a “no contest” clause often forces a contesting beneficiary to make a “take it or leave it” decision or risks losing everything, “no contest” clauses are generally not enforceable and, in most states, anyone with standing can challenge a will if they have valid reasons to challenge it.

Free Consultation with a Probate Lawyer in Utah

If you are here, you probably have an estate issue you need help with, call Ascent Law for your free estate law consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.

Michael R. Anderson, JD

Ascent Law LLC
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States

Telephone: (801) 676-5506

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About the Author

People who want a lot of Bull go to a Butcher. People who want results navigating a complex legal field go to a Lawyer that they can trust. That’s where I come in. I am Michael Anderson, an Attorney in the Salt Lake area focusing on the needs of the Average Joe wanting a better life for him and his family. I’m the Lawyer you can trust. I grew up in Utah and love it here. I am a Father to three, a Husband to one, and an Entrepreneur. I understand the feelings of joy each of those roles bring, and I understand the feeling of disappointment, fear, and regret when things go wrong. I attended the University of Utah where I received a B.A. degree in 2010 and a J.D. in 2014. I have focused my practice in Wills, Trusts, Real Estate, and Business Law. I love the thrill of helping clients secure their future, leaving a real legacy to their children. Unfortunately when problems arise with families. I also practice Family Law, with a focus on keeping relationships between the soon to be Ex’s civil for the benefit of their children and allowing both to walk away quickly with their heads held high. Before you worry too much about losing everything that you have worked for, before you permit yourself to be bullied by your soon to be ex, before you shed one more tear in silence, call me. I’m the Lawyer you can trust.