One of the drawbacks of having a will as opposed to a trust is that wills tend to be easier to challenge. However, this doesn’t mean that you necessarily have the right to contest the terms of a loved one’s estate plan. It also doesn’t mean that you should pursue a will contest even if you may have the legal right to do so in New York or around the country.
What are the grounds to contest a will?
Generally speaking, you can contest a will if there is reason to believe that the testator was not of sound mind when it was written. You may also be able to claim that the will was the product of undue influence, written while the testator was under duress, and/or was the product of fraud. Finally, it may be possible to assert that the document was not executed in accordance with state law. For example, you may assert that it lacked the testator’s signature or the signature of a sufficient number of witnesses.
You’ll need standing to challenge a will
In most cases, only those who are named as beneficiaries of a deceased person’s estate have the ability to contest a will. In addition, those who would stand to inherit a portion of a deceased person’s estate if the will is invalidated may also pursue a legal challenge.
The potential negative consequences of a will contest
It’s worth noting that a will contest could cause a rift between yourself and other family members. Furthermore, you should know that the cost of defending against such a challenge is paid by your loved one’s estate. Therefore, it’s possible that you’ll still receive nothing even if your will contest is successful.
The loss of a loved one can be a stressful time, so it’s important to not make decisions that are driven by emotion. However, if you feel as if you’ve been cheated out of an inheritance that you want or need, it may be worthwhile to pursue a will contest. Ideally, you will start this pursuit as quickly as possible after a loved one passes so that your claim can be handled in a timely manner.