Contesting a Will

Information about challenging a will

Last updated: 10 November 2016

In some cases you can contest the will of a person who has died. This is a legal process that challenges the content of the will or the manner in which it was created.

There are only four legal reasons for challenging a will. Explained in simple terms, the only permitted grounds for challenging a will are:

  1. The will does not comply with relevant state laws
  2. The person who died lacked ‘testamentary capacity’ when signing - they did not understand the nature of the will or the inheritance
  3. The person was influenced or coerced into making and signing the will
  4. The will is fake or was obtained by fraud, by tricking the person into signing it

This means that simply not being given what you expected to inherit is not a valid reason for contesting a will.

Additionally, these four legally permitted grounds for dispute are often very difficult to prove in court. This means that legal challenges to wills are often unsuccessful, time-consuming and costly.

However, if you do feel that your claim meets one of the four criteria listed above, you should consult a probate attorney. They will be able to advise you of whether your challenge is likely to succeed and how to begin the legal process of disputing the will. Read more about probate and how to settle an estate.