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What is the process of contesting a will?

On Behalf of | Aug 7, 2023 | Wills |

When a loved one passes away, dealing with the process of settling their estate can bring up an array of emotions. One of those emotions might be anger if there were certain expectations regarding inheritance. 

In that situation, there may be some discussion regarding contesting the will. While you may feel that is a necessary step, it’s essential to understand the process involved.

Grounds for contesting a will

In New York, there are several grounds for contesting a will. These include:

  1. Undue influence: the deceased was pressured or coerced into changing the will.
  2. Fraud: the deceased was tricked or deceived into signing the new will.
  3. Revocation: this is not the last will, and a new one was created.
  4. Improper execution: the will was not executed according to New York State law.
  5. Lack of testamentary capacity: the deceased didn’t have the mental ability to understand what they were doing.

Only interested parties can contest a will, including:

  • Family members
  • Beneficiaries
  • Creditors
  • Other people with a claim against the estate

If you are an interested party and feel there are grounds to contest a will, the first step is filing an objection with New York Surrogate’s Court. Every county in the state has a Surrogate’s Court, which oversees the probate of wills and administration of estates.

Within 30 days of the filing, the proponent must submit a citation stating that objections against the will have been filed and the objections will be considered at trial. During the trial, the court will review the evidence regarding the will’s validity.

Contesting a will is complex, so working with someone who can help you navigate the probate process is advisable.