The loss of a loved one can leave a family in New Jersey grief-stricken. The matter can be made even worse if a person believes the terms of their loved one’s will should not be followed, for example, if they believe the will was executed under undue influence or when their loved one was incompetent. However, before a person can pursue estate litigation, he or she must have standing to challenge a will.
Not just anyone can contest a person’s will. Only “interested persons” to the will can pursue litigation if they believe the terms of the will should not be followed. In general, only those who would inherit through intestacy laws if there was no will, those who were named as beneficiaries of a previous will executed by the deceased, or those who were named as beneficiaries of a subsequent will executed by the deceased may contest the will.
For example, a child might have standing to contest a will, even if they were not named as a will beneficiary, because they would stand to inherit in the absence of a will under state intestacy laws. Likewise, if a friend was named as a beneficiary in a will, he or she may contest it. However, if the friend was not named as a beneficiary in either a prior will or subsequent will, that friend would not have standing to pursue estate litigation because friends cannot inherit in the absence of a will under state intestacy laws.
A person pursuing any lawsuit must have standing to do so, and estate litigation is no different. Only interested parties can challenge a will. If a person believes that the terms of a loved one’s will should not be followed, and wishes to contest the will in court, he or she may want to first discuss the matter with a legal professional to determine whether he or she has standing to bring such a claim.