A will is meant not only to express the final wishes of the deceased, but also to make them legally binding. With that in mind, Oregon courts are not easily convinced that they should invalidate a will. As long as the will meets the formal requirements under state law, the court is likely to declare it valid.
That said, sometimes family members or others suspect something is wrong with a will. They may suspect it doesn’t accurately reflect their loved one’s last wishes. Perhaps they fear it was falsified, or created under duress or undue influence. If so, they may petition the court to declare the will invalid. This legal action is known as a will contest.
Party of interest
Under Oregon law, any interested person may contest a will on the basis that they believe it is ineffective, that the court should recognize a different will, or that the deceased made promises that are not reflected in the will.
But who counts as an “interested person” for these purposes? Generally, anyone who might have reasonably expected being named in the will can be an interested person for purposes of contesting a will. This includes nearly all the deceased’s living relatives, anyone who was named in a previous will, and anyone to whom the decease might have made a promise about their will. Likewise, anyone who is actually named in the will is an interested party in the will contest because the contest could change how the will affects them.
Anyone who brings a petition to contest a will must identify all interested parties and give them notice of the petition. This gives them a chance to participate in the will contest, whether they support the petitioner’s argument or oppose it.
Will contests are technically and often emotionally difficult. They can pit family members against each other, dredging up old personality conflicts and creating new ones. However, they are sometimes necessary in the interests of justice. Because they are so difficult, it’s crucial that people considering a will contest seek out help from an experienced attorney.