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Who can legally dispute a will?

| Jan 7, 2020 | Estate Administration & Probate |

Every state has its own laws regarding who can and cannot dispute the validity of a will. In New York, challenging the probate of a will results in a will contest. You must have standing in order to hold a will contest. Today, we will look at the requirements to have standing.

First of all, the state requires that you have “pecuniary interest”. What this means is that you have an interest related to money. You could either stand to lose or gain money depending on why you are disputing the will. Using this as a guideline, there are two primary parties that qualify. The first are beneficiaries who would gain less under the current will than a previous one. The second are distributees who would receive less under a will than if there was no will at all.

These individuals cannot contest other parts of the will. They can only contest an appointed executor if they gained the position through undue influence or fraud. If they are eligible to contest a will, they must then file a petition to stop the probate process. The grounds they may base their arguments on include:

  • Revocation: The testator revoked a will
  • Undue execution: The will was not executed properly
  • Incapacitation: The testator was not of sound mind at the time they wrote the will
  • Undue influence: The testator was under someone else’s influence

Any argument against a will should have its basis in these categories. For those who qualify to contest, this is key information to keep in mind when proceeding forward.