Who can contest a will in New York?
Contesting a will occurs when an individual challenges the validity of a will. In New York, only certain individuals can challenge the probate of a Last Will and Testament. This is known as a will contest. You must have a pecuniary interest to have the standing to contest a will which means you must have an interest relating to money.
Only the following individuals have the standing to contest a will:
- Beneficiaries who would receive less under the purported will than under a prior last will and testament
- Distributees who would receive less under the last will and testament than if there were no will
However, distributees or beneficiaries without a pecuniary interest can object to the appointment of a named executor who was named as executor in the will through fraud or undue influence.
If you are unsure if you have a pecuniary interest, it is important that you retain the services of a knowledgeable estate planning attorney who can assist you in determining this.
What objections can be filed?
Objections will be filed in the Surrogate’s Court to prevent the will from being probated. The following grounds are listed under New York Law in which a will can be contested for:
- Undue Execution, meaning the will was not executed properly. The will was not properly executed.
- Revocation, meaning the will was revoked by the testator. The will was revoked by the testator.
- Incapacitation, meaning the testator lacked testamentary capacity t.
- Fraud, meaning the testator, in executing the will, was induced by fraud.
- Undue Influence was exerted upon the testator in executing the will.
When should I contest a will?
You can contest a will before or after it is offered for probate. To contest a will, if you decide to contest a will prior to probate, you will file a caveat with the court in the county of residence of the decedent. The caveat will need to be addressed before being allowed to continue through the administration process.
However, if you are contesting a will after probate, you may file a complaint with the court. Within this process, both sides will have the opportunity to present evidence and witnesses to support their position. Ultimately, the court will decide on the matter.
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