A loved one passes away. A copy of their will gets passed around, telling people what they have inherited. You never get a copy. Confused, you talk to someone else who got one and ask to read theirs.
As you probably suspected all along, you got left out of the will. They didn’t leave you anything. The will does not specifically say that you get nothing. It just does not mention you at all.
It stings. You felt certain that you would get something from that estate. Now, as you watch everyone else collect on what they now own, you start to wonder what you should do.
Can you challenge?
The first question to ask yourself is whether you can even challenge that will. Generally speaking, you need to be a family member who is directly related to the person who passed away — someone who logically thought they would get included — or someone who was named in a previous version of the estate plan.
If you do not check one of those two boxes, you can’t do a lot. A challenge has to come from someone with the legal grounds to make that challenge. You don’t have it.
Can they cut you out?
Another thing to consider is that they can legally cut you out of the will, even if you are family and/or you were named prior to this version of the will. It’s called disinheriting someone. It’s not illegal to do so. It happens year in and year out.
When can you challenge?
When you can challenge the will and try to fight for what you thought you would get is when you think that you should not have gotten cut out in the first place. You don’t think it was fair or that it shows what that person wanted.
For instance, maybe you think another heir forged the will specifically to take your inheritance. You can challenge on the grounds that the will is fraudulent.
Or, perhaps you think that the elderly person made changes to the will after they got diagnosed with dementia. You could argue that they honestly forgot about you or did not understand what they were doing when drafting the will.
Another example is if you think that someone close to the elderly person influenced their decision. They may have done this through threats or manipulation. It’s called undue influence. If you were named in a previous will and that’s the reason they made a new copy that cut you out, you can challenge.
As you can see, you do have options. You just need to know exactly what they are and what steps you have to take.