I just lost my childhood friend, David, of 50 years. He is Godfather to my two children and was a second father to them for the last 25 years. He had only one living relative, a sister, who he had a falling out with when their mother died 7 years ago but he was never close to her. When she was having a hard time (lost job, health problems, etc due to her bad life style) 15 years ago, he put her in his will as the heir to his estate and put my children as the heirs to the total estate if she predeceased him. It was in a moment of drama that she forced him into.
He meant to change it but procrastinated, not thinking he would have an untimely death. The executor of the wil,l Scott (our childhood friend),his best friend Randy, and myself and my children were told that his wishes were to eliminate his sister from the will and place my children as the heirs to his estate. David told us this many times. When Scott and Randy kept encouraging him to do so he kept putting it off because he thought it was not eminant. When he died last week, Randy called the sister and explined that David's wishes were that my daughters would recieve all of it and it would be the right thing for her to provide something for them. She flatly refused and not a reasonable person...no friends, no family, no job and a middle aged, horder.
Do I have any legal standing to challenge the will? I just want something for my children as David wanted. The estate is probably worth $700,000.
3 Answers from Attorneys
I am sorry for you loss. Yes, it is possible to challenge the will. You should hire a local attorney for assistance. You should expect this to go to trial.
YOU have no standing. Your children would have to overcome clear law that establishes a written will as the "last word" on the wishes of the deceased. Oral statements and promises of the deceased are not enforceable, on the theory that if he really meant them, he would have taken action. Unless the children can provide written evidence from the deceased of his intend to change the will, any contest would certainly be a waste of money and time, unless it could be used a 'leverage' to encourage some kind of settlement with the named beneficiary. However, such action is essentially an attempt at extortion unless validly based with some legitimate evidence.
Unless you have something in writing that can qualify as a wlll, or an amendment to the existing will, it is unlikely that you will be able to prevail.
You should definitely speak to a lawyer in person about this, rather than rely on general comments in a forum like this.