Who can contest a will?

About three years later Samantha becomes ill and her favorite uncle Arthur moves in with the family to assist her. During this time Arthur decides he doesn’t like Darrin and begins trying to convince Samantha that something about Darrin has suddenly changed and he does not appear to be the same man that she first married.

As time goes by, Samantha’s illness becomes steadily worse and Arthur begins discussing this issue with Samantha more frequently. Although he never discusses this while Darrin is around, Arthur does not have the same reservations about discussing the issue in front of others and frequently raises the subject in the presence of Samantha’s neighbor, Gladys.

Eventually convinced that Darrin is some sort of imposter, Samantha makes a new will that completely excludes him. In fact, she is so concerned with the thought of leaving her money within the control of this conniving stranger that she also excludes her daughter, believing that the ‘new Darrin’ would simply take control of any assets left to Tabitha. Her solution is to name Arthur as the primary beneficiary under the new will, followed by Tabitha.

As she becomes unable to deal with the stress of living with a stranger, Samantha’s health begins to deteriorate rapidly and she eventually passes away. Darrin presents Samantha’s reciprocal will for probate and shortly afterward, Arthur presents Samantha’s newest will for probate.

Contesting Samantha’s Will
The obvious candidate for standing to contest Samantha’s will is Darrin. Although spouses are also afforded the right to claim a statutory share of the deceased spouse’s estate when they are not included in a will (the specifics of which are beyond the scope of this article) Darrin was the sole beneficiary under an earlier will that granted him the entire estate. As he is in a position to receive more property by contesting the will than by claiming a statutory share, Darrin would most likely pursue a will contest and would have standing to do so.

Although she is also named by the earlier will, Tabitha does not have legal standing to contest the present will upon that same basis. In addition to the requirement of injury, the person contesting a will must also be in a position that will be remedied by the action being requested through the courts. Tabitha is the sole alternate beneficiary of a single primary beneficiary under each will. As each of these primary beneficiaries survived Samantha’s death, Tabitha is in the same position with either will.

However, if no one could produce the earlier will, Tabitha may have standing to contest the current will, depending upon whether Darrin would be required to share the intestate estate with her under the appropriate intestate laws.

Now suppose that neither Tabitha nor Darrin wish to contest this will, but that Gladys would like to pursue a contest because she knows the full circumstances behind the newest will and the reasons for the changes. Gladys is not named by the earlier will and is not a statutory heir, which means that even if the current will is declared invalid Gladys will not take a portion of Samantha’s estate. Even though Gladys may be able to absolutely prove that the current will does not contain Samantha’s true wishes, she does not fall within the category of people who have standing and cannot bring will contest.

Of course, legal standing to contest a will does not assure any one of success. In that same regard, anyone with legal standing is much closer to success than any person who does not have standing.


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