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For Estate Planning, Estate Administration And Disputes

How can a will be contested in New York?

On Behalf of | Jul 3, 2024 | Estate Administration & Probate |

Your will is more than just a document; it is the cornerstone of your plans for your legacy and loved ones when you are no longer here. When you take the time to draft this crucial document, you secure the distribution of your assets and prevent potential conflict among your family members when the time comes.

However, even the most carefully crafted will can face challenges. In New York, there are several grounds on which a will can be contested. What exactly are these grounds, and how can you prevent someone from contesting your will?

Legal grounds for challenging a will in New York

If you want to protect your will from potential challenges, it is vital to understand the following legal grounds for contests:

  • Lack of capacity: In New York, the testator, or the person making the will, must understand the implications of their decisions. If the testator was not of sound mind or was suffering from a mental illness, they may not have had the capacity to make informed decisions about their estate.
  • Undue influence: This can take many forms including emotional manipulation, threats or even physical coercion. For instance, someone might repeatedly guilt you into changing your will by threatening to cut off contact with your grandchildren if you do not leave them a larger inheritance.
  • Fraud: In some cases, fraudulent activities may occur while creating a will. This can include document forgery or intentionally misleading the testator about the will’s contents or implications. For example, someone might lie about the value of a particular asset, ultimately influencing your decisions on how to distribute it.
  • Ambiguity or uncertainty: If your will’s language is unclear or open to different interpretations, it might make it difficult to understand your true intentions. In these cases, the court may need to intervene to determine the most appropriate interpretation of the will’s provisions.

Familiarizing yourself with these potential grounds for a contest can help you ensure your will is clear, legally sound and truly reflects your wishes.

A contested will can upend your final wishes, leading to family disputes and costly legal battles. Not only that, but it can also drain your estate’s resources and alter the distribution of your assets. By knowing the grounds for contesting a will, you can take steps to create a robust will that can stand legal scrutiny.