Who Can Challenge A Will?

If your cousin Joe dies and leaves all his wealth to charity, without any consideration for his two children, can you challenge his will? No, you wouldn't be able to challenge that will because you have no "standing." Having a standing means that you will be affected by the outcome of the will challenge; meaning you can either gain or lose. Going by that definition, examples of those who can challenge a will include:

The Will's Beneficiaries

A beneficiary is anybody named in the will. They include children, spouses, other relatives, friends, churches, charities and any other person named in the will. These people have standing because they can lose their potential inheritance if the will is successfully challenged. Some of them, such as spouses, can also gain more assets if they can prove that they are entitled to more inheritance than what they have been given in the will. For example, some state's laws state that spouses are entitled to their marital homes so they can challenge wills that give away such properties.

Beneficiaries of Previous Wills

If more than one party unveils a decedent's will, then the beneficiaries of the previous will are allowed to challenge the current one.  Consider an example where Joe dies in 2015, his girlfriend has a 2015 will that names her as the sole heir while his grandparents avail a 2013 will that includes them and other beneficiaries. In this case, the grandparents can challenge the will because they had been named in the prior will.

The reasoning is that these are people who the decedent had in mind and wanted to benefit from his estate. The grandparents might assert, for instance, that the girlfriend coerced Joe to exclude them from the will. They may argue that she managed to do so because Joe was already too frail and not of sound mind when she came into the picture.


Heirs are those who stand to receive a share of a decedent's estate if there is no will. The definition of an heir depends on the interstate laws of your state, but they commonly include spouses, children and grandparents. Therefore, if an heir is not named in a will, then he or she has the authority to challenge it because he or she stands to gain if the case is successful.

It's clear that not everybody has the legal leeway to challenge a will. Of course, even if you do have standing, challenging a will is not as simple as saying that you don't agree with it. A family lawyer, like those at Fraser Legal PC, can analyze your case and help you determine your chances of success with the challenge.