If you are currently an executor of an estate or a candidate to act as one someday, you may have concerns about someone bringing litigation over the estate. While it may not happen to you, you should still be aware of who in Tennessee might challenge a will if you are in charge of overseeing one. Not just anyone can challenge a will, and any possible litigant will likely come from a select group of people.
FindLaw explains that to be able to challenge a will, a person needs to have standing to do so. To possess standing, usually a person has to be named as a beneficiary in the will. People that are not named in the will would have to demonstrate that they could receive or lose out if the will is ruled to be invalid. In general, to have standing, a person has to have a strong enough connection to an estate that the person could plausibly benefit from an inheritance.
People that are likely to have standing include relatives of the decedent. Spouses, children, and stepchildren are among the relatives who might seek standing to litigate a will, although direct descendants are more likely to successfully receive standing since they would typically inherit first. However, relatives are not the only ones who may receive standing. Close friends who are also beneficiaries may be able to stake a claim to an estate in court.
Sometimes changes in a will can cause a person, even a non-relative, to have standing. The decedent may have drafted an initial will but then cut out a person from inheritance in a subsequent draft. The person who was excluded may litigate the will on the grounds that he or she was unfairly omitted from the will, perhaps because the decedent was under duress to do so.
In the event you as an executor do face litigation over a will, consulting legal counsel will likely be necessary to handle the matter and bring the estate to a proper closure. Because litigation over estates occurs in different ways, do not consider this article as legal advice. It is only intended as general information.