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When does a person have ‘standing’ to pursue probate litigation?

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2019 | Probate Litigation

When a person in Nevada believes that a problem exists with their loved one’s will, they may believe the terms of the will should not be honored. Thus, they may want to contest the will. However, not just anyone can pursue probate litigation; a person must have standing to do so. So, it is important to understand who has standing to challenge a will.

In general, when it comes to wills, a person has standing if they would be personally and financially affected by it if it were to be followed. For example, disinherited heirs-at-law may have standing when it comes to probate litigation. An heir-at-law is someone who would have received a portion of the deceased’s estate if there was no will and heirs would be determined through state laws of intestacy. However, for an heir-at-law to succeed in challenging a will, it needs to be shown that the decedent didn’t intentionally disinherit the heir-at-law or that the will was invalid in some other way.

Beneficiaries and fiduciaries named in a previous will may also have standing to challenge a more recent will. However, this is only the case if the beneficiary was left out of the newer will or if that beneficiary’s inheritance under the newer will was reduced. However, to succeed in challenging a will, beneficiaries need to show that the newer will was invalid in some way.

As this shows, not just anyone can legally challenge a will. A person who would not stand to benefit from either a previous will or the laws of intestacy generally does not have standing to contest a will. Moreover, the burden is on the person contesting the will to show that it should be considered invalid for some reason, such as lack of testamentary capacity, coercion or undue influence. Challenging a will is a complex legal procedure, so many people choose to work with attorneys to help them make decisions appropriate in their situation.

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