Klenk Law

My best friend promised to leave me her house, but never changed her will. What now?

Posted on Wed Sep 30, 2015, on Estate Planning

From our “Ask a Question” mailbag: My best friend repeatedly promised to give me her Chester County house in her will. She died recently and her son, who did not talk to her for 40 years, has filed a will from the 1970s that gives him everything. Can I challenge that Will?

If I understand the facts correctly, your best friend died and to the best of your knowledge, her most recent will was the one her son filed with the Chester County Register of Wills. That will is very old, but as far as you know, is the most recent will she signed. Though she verbally promised to give you the house in Chester County, she failed to write a new will.

If these are the facts, then you will not be able to successfully challenge the Will for two reasons.

First, just because your friend promised to make a Will, that promise did not give you any legal right to the house. Second, to file a Will Contest in Chester County, you have to have standing. This means you have to be recognized as an interested party. In this case even if you successfully challenged the 1970s Will and had it thrown out for being a forgery or because of undue influence, then your friend would be found to have died without a Will (intestate).

Under the Pennsylvania intestacy rules the house would pass to your friend’s descendants, but not to you. Because there is no way that you would gain from a Will Contest, the Orphans’ Court judge would find that you did not have standing and would dismiss your case.

Sorry!

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Chester County, Pennsylvania

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