Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Missouri

What rights does a step child have to contest a will?

Asked on 4/11/12, 5:17 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Richard Herndon Richard J. Herndon, Attorney at Law

A step child has the same rights as anyone else. A Will may be essentially challenged on two grounds. The first is "undue influence" - that is someone forcing the personal making the will to do so, whether by brute force or threat, or something more subtle. The second is lack of "testamentary capacity", which means that the person making the will did not know or understand what they were doing.

That being said, the results of a successful challenge may be much different for a step-child. First, the term "step-child" is not a legal term. One either is or is not a child, and a child is either a biological or adopted child. The fact that one's parent is married to a non-parent does not give any legal status to the child.

Another point to consider is that after one reaches age 18 there is no right to inherit. In the absense of a will there may be, but a parent has no legal obligation or duty to leave any portion of their estate to a child after they reach this age.

I hope this is helpful. Let us know if we can be of further assistance.

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Answered on 4/11/12, 7:07 am

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