Can you challenge a will after probate?

George Dawson's picture
Authored by George Dawson
Posted Tuesday, July 10, 2018 - 7:19am

A will is one of those things that you’ve likely heard about repeatedly. While some people take drafting one seriously, others may feel death is something that’s far away and stall on writing one. However, for those who have written wills and passed away, a will has likely saved a lot of hassle especially if assets and money were left behind. You may be reading this because a loved one has recently passed away and you realised that you weren’t given as much as you were supposed to be or left out of the will altogether. If that’s the case and a probate has already been passed, you may be wondering if it can still be challenged. The following article will hopefully answer your question.

What is a Probate?

For those who are familiar with a will but have never heard of a probate before, it’s essentially the court process of authenticating the will of a deceased person. This ensures that what’s been left behind goes to all of the right and lawful beneficiaries. Some of the things involved in a probate include locating and determining the value of assets left behind, paying their final bills and taxes, and then distributing the remaining to the beneficiaries. If you wanted to apply for a probate, you could typically apply by yourself or decide to use a solicitor instead.

Can You Challenge a Will After Probate?

If you’ve recently had a loved one die and they left a will, you may be thinking about challenging the will. This could be for reasons such as feeling as though what was allocated to you wasn’t the desire of your loved one, suspecting that they were a victim of fraud, or being left out of the will altogether. As a relative, you have legal rights to contest the will if you please to do so.  Whatever the case, you might be wondering if it’s too late to challenge the will, especially if a probate has already been completed. The answer is that you can’t challenge a will after the probate is complete as legally, the estate no longer exists. You can, however, challenge a probate while it’s still in progress as there’s usually a window open to do so. For this reason, it’s imperative that you challenge a will as soon as possible.

How to Challenge a Will?

If you haven’t yet missed the window as mentioned above, there is still a good chance that you can challenge a will before or during a probate being processed. The first thing you should do is contact a professional such as and see what it is that they advise you do. The process usually requires that you send a notification of the probate proceeding to all beneficiaries named in the will. The legal notice will then usually limit the time a beneficiary has to challenge or contest the will to between 30 and 90 days depending on the state’s laws.

Legal proceedings of any nature can be extremely time-consuming. However, of the necessary steps are taken in a timely manner, it doesn’t have to be as stressful as it could be. By understanding how a probate works and when the best time to challenge a will is, however, you stand a better chance at getting a favourable outcome.