We think of estate planning as a way to ensure that our heirs and beneficiaries have what they need in the event we pass away. While this might seem easy for those aspiring to leave assets, it may not be so for those who are slated to receive them. Beneficiaries may have very different ideas about what they are entitled to compared to what is articulated through a will.
This is where will contests come into play. When disputes arise among surviving family members, business associates or anyone else associated with the diseased, New York law has a procedure to address these concerns in probate court. Before having a dispute heard before a probate judge, there must be a legal basis for the will being contested. This post will examine some of the most common basis for will contests.
Lack of testamentary capacity – In order for a will to be valid under state law, the testator (the person making the will) must be of sound mind at the time the will was executed. TA person challenging a will contends that the testator was not of sound mind or lacked the proper mental capacity to draft a proper will.
Undue influence – In addition to being of sound mind, the testator must not be coerced into executing the will. However, some disgruntled beneficiaries may believe that the testator was subjected to undue influence.
Fraud – If the testator was intentionally deceived in preparing the will, fraud could be the legal basis for challenging the will.
If any of these basis are proven, the will could be invalidated; meaning that the will would have no legal recognition and distributions based on it could be annulled. If you have questions about will contests, an experienced probate attorney can advise you.