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Who may challenge a will in probate?

Posted on September 27, 2018

One of the main reasons that it can benefit Missouri residents to work with knowledgeable estate planning attorneys to create their wills and other testamentary documents is that such experts can help their clients create estate plans that stand up to challenges. An estate that is challenged during probate can be stuck in the process for years, creating more problems and costing more money to work through and ultimately resolve. Not everyone has the power to challenge every estate, and this post will explore what parties may have standing to challenge probated estates.

In general, a person who is an heir to a decedent or to whom the decedent owed money (a creditor) may have standing to challenge a probated estate. A challenge effectively says that the way the decedent’s estate is being administered incorrectly or that there was a problem in the way certain estate planning documents were executed. For example, a child whose parent left them out of a will may challenge the parent’s probated estate and claim that the parent was coerced into leaving them out through fraud perpetrated by others.

To challenge an estate a person must have some interest in it, which means that strangers and individuals who would not have benefited from the estate generally may not disrupt the probate process to make a challenge. Readers with further questions about probate challenges should discuss them with their estate planning professionals.

Most people want to avoid probate, and if probate is necessary, most people want their estates to pass through it as fast as possible. Working with an estate planning attorney can help a person protect their wealth and assets through a carefully crafted estate plan.