Challenging a Will

A ‘Will contest’ or ‘Will challenge’ is a legal objection to terms of or the validity of a Last Will and Testament. Challenges to a Will are usually initiated by family members or close relatives of the deceased. In most instances, the challenger feels that he or she has lost out on his or her rightful inheritance.


Typically, most Last Will challenges are instituted by the spouse, children or, in some cases, grandchildren of the deceased. This is because they are generally the only class of beneficiary that have a legal or moral right to benefit from a deceased person’s estate. Challenges to a Will are likely to focus on one or more of the following assertions:

  • that the deceased lacked sufficient mental capacity to fully understand what he or she was doing in making his or her Last Will;


  1. that the deceased was subjected to undue influence from a family member or advisor;

  2. that the deceased’s Last Will has been fraudulently tampered with;

  3. that the deceased’s Last Will has not been properly executed or witnessed in accordance with the law; or

  4. that the challenger to the Will has not been properly provided for under the terms of the Will.


If the challenger is ultimately successful in challenging the Will, the court will order a re-distribution of the deceased’s estate based on the determination of court or, where the Will is deemed to be invalidly made, in accordance with the rules of intestacy.


Challenges to a Will are not very common. In fact, many Last Wills now contain “no-contest” clauses. A “no-contest” clause normally states that if a beneficiary under a Last Will & Testament challenges the Will, then that challenger will get nothing under the Will or else a token gift like $10.



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