When a loved one passes away, it is up to those left behind to settle his or her estate. This can be quite a complex process, especially in situations in which a family member or other person believes he or she has grounds to contest the will. There are limits to who can challenge a will and for what grounds, but there are certain circumstances in which it is necessary to undertake this process.
Challenging a will is difficult. In most cases, the court adheres to the will as written by the deceased, as this is his or her only way to express wishes and desires for the estate. While those who have a stake in the terms of the will may challenge it, these efforts are often unsuccessful. If you think this is the right course of action for you, it is beneficial to seek an understanding of your options and whether or not you have grounds to challenge a will.
Valid grounds for challenging a will
You cannot challenge a will simply because you do not like what a person decided to do with his or her estate. However, there are specific reasons that make it important to challenge the will. If successful, it is possible that part of the will is invalid or possibly the entire document. Valid reasons to move forward with the process of challenging this type of estate planning document include:
- If you believe that the person drafting the will was under undue influence at the time, it may be invalid. This is also the case for wills drafted by fraudulent means or by forgery.
- When a person lacks testamentary capacity, which is when he or she does not have the mental ability to make important financial decisions, a will drafted by that person may not be valid.
- If there is another will, a lack of sufficient witnesses to the existing will or other issues with a will, beneficiaries and heirs may challenge the will and petition a court to resolve the problem.
Challenging a will can be a complex and lengthy process, but it may be in the best interests of your family to do so. It is important, however, to first ensure that you have valid grounds to move forward with your concerns.
A complete assessment of your case and discussing your concerns with an experienced New York estate planning attorney can help you understand how you can protect your rights and the interests of your family. You have the right to explore all of the legal options available to you.