Will contest is a common type of estate lawsuit where the objectant (the individual objecting the will) challenges the validity of a will. Under the laws of New York, only specific persons can challenge the probate of a last will and testament, regarded as a “will contest”.
In order to have standing to contest a will, you must have a “pecuniary interest”. A pecuniary interest is an internet relating to money; thus, the following individuals are eligible to contest a will:
- Distributes (heirs at law) who will get less under the last will and testament than they would get when there exist no will; and
- Beneficiaries who would receive less under the purported will than they would under a prior last will and testament
Distributees or beneficiaries without a pecuniary interest can only challenge the appointment of a named executor who was designated as the executor in the will via fraud or undue influence. Such a distributee or beneficiary cannot contest the other provisions of the will. Your probate attorney can help you in ascertaining whether you have standing to contest a will being subjected to probate.
Who can Contest a Will?
Any interested individual may contest a will. This individual could be the heir of the deceased, his or her devisee, child, spouse, creditor, beneficiary, or other individual having any property right in or claim against the deceased’s estate that could be affected by the probate process.
The estate executor is an individual chosen in the will to supervise the probate of the will. Mind you, a named executor who wouldn’t inherit any of the deceased’s asset doesn’t have a standing to bring a will contest.
Worthy to note is that, as soon as a will is admitted to probate by the court, while it may still be contested it is more challenging and the standing to contest it is further limited. It is often preferable for the contestant to contest the will before it is being admitted to probate. On the other hand, if you are defending a will, it is best to admit the will to probate ASAP to reduce the chances of the contestants.
Grounds for Contesting a Will In Queens
As I said earlier, you cannot contest a will because you dislike its terms. There are four legal reasons for a will contest in most states, and it can be challenging to prove any of them. This simply means that, you are definitely going to spend a lot of money in court and attorney fees. However, if one of these reasons for a contest is present, a last will and testament can be deemed invalid.
- The will wasn’t signed according to the applicable state laws
- The testator didn’t have testamentary capacity to sign the will
- The testator signed the will under influence
- The will was acquired by fraud
You are free to contest a will if one or more of the following reasons are present. However, ensure you contact a probate attorney for help.
Contesting a Will in Queens City, NY.
If you have enough reason to believe that there was some misconduct involved with the will execution itself or the circumstances leading up to the signing, the first thing to do is contact a competent attorney.
An attorney specializing in estate planning and probate law will tell you if there is a standing to make a challenge and whether legitimate grounds are available for a contest.
When starting a will challenge in Queens City, It is crucial you understand that although one or all grounds may seem to be present, there might be strong conflicting evidence that says the opposite. The executor may table medical records which shows that the decedent was found in good health by his doctor, including writings like emails showing that the will admitted for probate is indeed according to the decedent’s wishes.
If the last will and testament of the decedent is turned down and deemed invalid, the whole estate will be inherited by the heirs of the deceased pursuant of New York’s intestacy law. There also exist the case in which a judge will rule only if specific provisions are invalid, while leaving other to remain.
If you need help in contesting a will, call our office. Our experienced probate and estate planning attorney can help.