Virginia law only permits certain individuals to contest a will. These individuals are typically referred to as "interested parties." In order to contest a will, an interested party must have grounds to do so.
Why Would Someone Contest a Will?
First, it is important to understand the reasons why someone may seek to challenge a will. Perhaps the most common reason is that the person believes that the will is not valid. If the will does not meet certain requirements, it may be challenged in court.
Other grounds for contesting a will include lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence. Contesting a will can be a complicated and costly process, so it is essential to consult with an experienced attorney before taking any action.
What is an Interested Party?
An interested party is any party that may have some form of economic interest regarding the asset distribution of the decedent's will. These parties may be listed as beneficiaries in the probated will or may have been listed as beneficiaries in a prior will, or may be intestate heirs (certain family members) of the decedent.
Individuals named in a will to inherit a decedent’s assets are called beneficiaries. Beneficiaries may decide to contest a will when a will fails to meet certain technical requirements under Virginia law or when they believe that a decedent lacked the testamentary capacity to execute a will or when they believe that a decedent was unduly influenced in making the will.
When an individual was listed as a beneficiary in a previous will, but is not listed in the probated will, then they may wish to challenge the probated will. In order for a beneficiary in a prior will to contest a probated will, they still need to have grounds to do so, such as a technical defect with the probated will, lack of testamentary capacity, or undue influence. People change their estate plans and exclusion from a new will by itself is not sufficient grounds to challenge a will.
Even if someone was never named in a prior will, they may still be able to challenge a probated will if they are a “blood relative” of the decedent under the law of Virginia intestate succession. These relationships often include the spouse of the decedent, the children (biological or adopted) of the decedent, the grandchildren of the decedent, the siblings of the decedent, or the blood nieces and nephews of the decedent.
Will Contest Attorneys in The Shenandoah Valley
With over 40 years of combined experience, the attorneys at Obenshain Law Group have been committed to helping individuals through the will contest process. Whether you are seeking to challenge a will or are defending a will contest, our team will review your case and determine the best course of action toward a favorable outcome.
If you are thinking about contesting a will or are defending a will contest, contact us today at (540) 318-7360 to schedule a free consultation.