Q: Can my will be contested?
A: Dear Concerned:
Creating a will should give you peace of mind. But if you are worried about someone contesting it, it helps to learn about the circumstances under which your will could be challenged.
A beneficiary could contest a will if he or she had standing (a financial interest in the estate) and grounds (a legally recognized reason) for bringing the action.
Typically, wills can be contested before or during the probate process, but this can vary based on state law. When a will contest is filed before probate, it is known as filing a caveat. Once filed, the will won’t go into probate until the caveator has a chance to explain his or her reasoning for the contest, usually at a hearing. A beneficiary may also file a will contest during probate but typically has only 30-90 days to do so.
Some states authorize pre-validating of a will while the creator is still alive. This can prevent any will contests when the will creator dies. Some states also recognize no-contest clauses, which deny beneficiaries who file and lose their contest action any inheritances they had a legal right to. This can deter beneficiaries from filing a will contest. If you are afraid your will may be contested, please contact a Personal Family Lawyer®. They can help.