Can You Contest a Will in New York?

contest will new york

After a will is admitted to probate, it may draw concern or spark doubt. If an interested party has any uncertainty surrounding the validity of a will, they may contest it. This temporarily stops the probate process of a decedent’s estate until the court addresses the contest. For more information on whether you can contest a will in New York, please read on, then contact an experienced Putnam County wills attorney today.

Who can contest a will in New York?

Not just anyone can follow the steps to contesting a will in the Empire State. In some cases, the decedent’s last will may seem nonsensical; however, the state only confers the legal right to contest to some people. In New York Surrogate’s Court, only an interested party can initiate a contest. The requirement that the claimant has standing is designed to protect the decedent’s legal next of kin.

Who has standing to contest a will in New York?

Those who have standing include:

  • Distributors: When the challenger would have inherited the decedent’s estate had the decedent died without a valid will. This would include the decedent’s spouse, children, parents or siblings.
  • Beneficiaries: When the party who is contesting the will is a beneficiary of the estate in the current or prior will.

Either distributees or beneficiaries without a pecuniary interest may also object to the appointment of an executor if they believe that the executor attained their position through fraud or undue influence.

Even so, the challenger must have legal grounds for contesting a will. Two of the most commonly-cited include:

What is undue influence in will contests in New York?

If an interested party suspects a relative, friend or even a healthcare provider influenced a testator into changing the terms of his or her will, the interested party may contest on the grounds of undue influence.

What is lack of capacity in will contests?

If an interested party suspects a testator did have the mental capacity to execute a valid will, the interested party may contest the document and terms. For a will to be legally valid in New York, the deceased must have:

  • Understood the nature and extent of executing a will
  • Knew the nature and extent of the property he or she was disposing of, and
  • Knew the natural objects of his or her bounty and his or her relations with them

Old age, memory problems and diagnoses like dementia or Alzheimer’s do not automatically establish a lack of testamentary. Instead, the interested party must prove it without a doubt in court.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to a skilled Putnam County estate planning attorney as soon as possible.

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If you or a loved one needs assistance creating an estate plan, contact the Law Office of Andres D. Gil, PLLC today.

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