Who has Standing to File a Will Contest?

Posted in Probate Litigation

Should a person wish to file a Will contest, the first threshold issue which must be addressed is whether that person has standing to file a Will contest.

In general, “standing” means whether a Plaintiff legally has a right to bring a claim to contest a Last Will and Testament in the Court with jurisdiction to hear the matter. The spouse, child, or next of kin of the Decedent automatically have a right to file a Will contest, whether they are named within that instrument or not.

In addition to these family members, a beneficiary under a current or previous Will would also have standing to commence a Will contest. These individuals have standing to contest the current Will even though there may be no blood relationship between them and the Decedent. The rationale for granting these individuals standing is because if the disputed Last Will and Testament is invalidated by the Court, then the Court could require that the Decedent’s previous Last Will and Testament be admitted to probate. For a direct citation to the relevant Court Rule, you may refer to Rule 4:80-1 within the New Jersey Rules of Civil Practice and Procedure which governs standing to contest a Will.

Should a party wish to file a Will contest, they should consult with an attorney to assist them with the process. Standing is merely one factor to consider with regard to a party’s right to file the Will contest; however, it is a threshold issue.