Do You Have Enough Legal Standing to Contest a Will?

Only specific people can file a lawsuit to contest the validity of the deceased's will. These persons are said to enjoy legal standing. To contest a will, you must prove that you were included or should've been included in the will, or prove that you would've inherited a portion of the deceased's estate if they had passed on without a will. Read on to learn more about who exactly has legal standing to challenge the will of their loved one.


Heirs-at-law usually enjoy a legal right to receive a portion of the decedent's estate if a will is not in place by the time of the death of the person. In the absence of a will, intestate succession is enforced, and the decedent's assets are inherited by his or her heirs-at-law who include:

  • The surviving spouse
  • Children
  • Grandchildren

The next of kin would receive a share of the deceased's estate only if he or she had no spouse, children or grandchildren. Therefore, if heirs-at-law are not included in the will or left with a small share, they can contest it.

Beneficiaries in the current will

Beneficiaries are all those who are included in the last will, whether or not they have blood relations with the deceased. Recipients may include your family members, relatives, friends or even charities. If the executor of the deceased's estate fails to remit your inheritance, you can file a claim since you have legal standing.

Beneficiaries in a prior will

If your name appeared in an older will but is nowhere to be seen in the recent document, or if your portion has been trimmed, you can file a lawsuit challenging the validity of the recent will based on your adequate legal standing. Equally, if you were named as the executor of the decedent's estate in the first will, but you're omitted in the new will, then you have sufficient standing to contest the document.

Reasonable provision

If you depended on the deceased financially for your upkeep or educational commitments, then you can file a claim under reasonable financial provision. You don't have to be related to the deceased to make this claim.


If the testator owed money to creditors or lending institutions, the creditors could consequently file a claim against the deceased's estate.

A wills attorney can help you determine whether you have legal standing to contest a will and also prepare a water-tight legal case to help protect your interests.