A loved one made the effort to create an estate plan, so you probably want to honor their last wishes. However, what if you believe the only way to fulfill their legacy is to challenge the documents in their estate plan?
Maybe you learn that the instructions they allegedly left behind contradict prior statements about their testamentary wishes. Perhaps one person is set to receive far more than your loved one said they intended to leave them, or several people who were close to them are no longer beneficiaries.
Beneficiaries and potential heirs have the right to challenge wills and other estate documents that they believe are inaccurate, outdated or fraudulent. What is the risk involved in bringing such a challenge in the New York probate courts?
Your inheritance could be at risk
Some testators don’t want their family members to challenge their estate plans, so they add no-contest clauses. A no-contest clause could reduce or eliminate your inheritance if you challenge the estate plan and lose. New York courts can and do uphold such clauses.
A challenge will diminish the estate’s value
Even if you don’t risk disinheritance, you could lose some of your inheritance anyway. If you need to challenge estate documents in probate court, it will cost much more to probate the estate than it otherwise would. Litigated probate proceedings could consume a significant portion of the estate’s total value, thus reducing the inheritance of every beneficiary at the end of the court proceedings.
Understanding the costs that may result from challenging an estate plan can help you make a more informed decision about the next step you take.