If there are assets left in an estate after a person passes away, they in most cases go through the probate process. This takes place in the state where the decedent resided. For example, California probate rules will apply if the decedent lived there at the time of death. During this process, it may be possible for certain parties to contest the decedent’s will.
Possible grounds for a will contest
You can’t contest a will simply because you don’t like its terms. To pursue a legal challenge, there must be evidence that the document wasn’t structured properly or that it was executed or edited by someone who was mentally unfit to do so. It may also be possible to claim that a will was changed because of undue influence by another party.
Parties who can contest a will
In addition to adequate grounds for contesting a will, you must have standing to do so. Generally speaking, anyone who is directly related to the testator typically has standing. Direct relatives may include the spouse, sibling or parent of the person who has passed. You may also have the right to pursue probate litigation if you were named in a previous version of the will or would likely be entitled to assets if the will was invalidated.
Potential consequences of a will challenge
There is no guarantee that you will receive a significant portion of a person’s estate even if a judge sides with you. This is because forcing the estate to defend against your claim may deplete whatever resources it had to give you. You should also note that challenging a will may result in hurt feelings that may strain relationships with family members.