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Which parties have the right to challenge a will?

When settling the New York estate of a loved one, you can face various challenges as you try to navigate the probate process, distribute assets as outlined and give proper notice to all beneficiaries. One of the most significant challenges that can arise at this time is a dispute over the validity, terminology or legality of the will. Contests over a will can be lengthy and stressful for all parties involved. 

Simply disagreeing with a person's wishes or wanting more money is not a valid reason to challenge a will. In fact, only certain parties have the right to contest a will, and they must have a valid reason to do so. It may be helpful to understand who can move forward with a challenge and learn how these disputes are resolved. 

Who can raise a challenge?

Will contests can be quite complex, but simply put, the law only allows interested parties to bring a formal challenge to a will. Mostly, this includes people who believe they have a claim to estate assets or have a claim against the estate, such as a creditor. Examples of these interested parties include:

  • Heirs -- Heirs are the individuals who would naturally inherit from an estate if a person dies without a will. They are the most common beneficiaries named in wills, including spouses, children, siblings and others.
  • Beneficiaries -- A person can be a beneficiary even if he or she is not a relative of the owner of the estate. Beneficiaries are often family members, but they can include friends and other parties who may have a claim to a portion of the estate.
  • Minors -- In some circumstances, minors who have an interest in the estate may bring forth a will contest upon reaching the age of 18. 

If you would like to contest a will or you are trying to settle an estate in which there are disputes over the estate documents, you may need to discuss your options with a legal professional.

Avoiding further complications 

Estate matters can be complex and confusing, especially if there are contests over the terms of a will. You may find significant benefit in seeking guidance from an experienced attorney who understands the laws and can help you successfully navigate the issue at hand. When you have guidance, you can resolve current issues in a timelier manner and avoid additional complications that can arise at a later point in the estate administration process.

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