From Our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My sister died recently in Montgomery County, PA, and her boyfriend is filing a forged will. Can I bring a will challenge? “My sister died and her boyfriend is filing a forged Will that gives him everything. The Will she wrote several years ago gives her money to her daughter. Her daughter is hesitant bring a Will challenge. Can I file the Will challenge for her?”
If the boyfriend has not yet filed the Will, I suggest that your niece take immediate action. She needs advice from an experienced Will Contest Attorney. Prior to the Will being filed it might prove strategically advantageous to file an Informal Caveat with the Montgomery County Register of Wills. This will at least temporarily prevent the boyfriend from accessing your sister’s assets. I will need more information before I can advise a course of action, but filing the informal caveat is often a good strategy.
Advice About Filing an Informal Caveat
While your niece is able to challenge the Will, you are not. In order to limit Will contests to only those who are “interested parties”, the courts hear only Petitions from aggrieved persons. An aggrieved person in a Will contest is a person who will be harmed if the Will is accepted. If the Register accepts the boyfriend’s Will you personally suffer no damage, as your receive the same amount as if the Will is rejected; nothing. You are not affected, win or lose.
You Must be an Aggrieved Person to Bring a Will Contest
Because the new Will does you no damage you do not have “standing” to challenge. While you could have us file an petition to challenge the Will as a forgery, the result would be the boyfriend quickly challenging your right to bring this petition. You would lose on preliminary objections. The judge will vacate the Petition.
Niece Has Standing to Bring a Will Challenge, But You Do Not
Instead, encourage your niece to set up a free consultation about filing the challenge. Your niece is an aggrieved person, as the new will reduces what she inherits. She has standing. There will be no challenge if she does not wish to stand up for herself.
The answer to your question, “can I challenge the Will” is no, but your niece can. If you or your niece has further questions about the process of challenging the Will as a forgery, or any other questions about Estate Litigation, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation.
Wills, Trusts and Probate, and Estate Litigation it’s all we do!
Peter Klenk, Esq.