Kingston Attorneys Handling Will Contests during the New York Probate Process
Sometimes during the probate process, disputes arise regarding the validity of a will. These disputes—referred to as will contests—can be especially stressful for all involved and detrimental to the estate. The wills & estates attorneys at Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP have decades of experience in estate planning and estate administration. Together, our lawyers help clients avoid or resolve will contests in Ulster County Surrogate’s Court and other probate courts throughout the Mid-Hudson Valley.
Facts about New York Will Contests
There are a number of formalities which must be followed in the creation and execution of a will in order for it to be valid and enforceable in New York. Other legal formalities also apply in order to modify or revoke a will correctly under New York law. If these formalities were not followed, the will may be challenged in the probate process. Other challenges may be made concerning the testator’s (person who made the will) mental capacity at the time the will was made, or when a will was not properly modified or revoked.
The most common reasons a will may be contested include:
- The will does not reflect the actual intent of the testator
- The will was forged
- The testator lacked capacity
- The testator was operating under an insane delusion
- The testator was subject to undue influence or fraud
- The will was not properly signed or witnessed
- Challenges to attempts to modify or revoke the will
- More than one will is offered for probate
Will contests are most common in families where the testator was married more than once, and children from the former marriage feel that they are disfavored compared to the second spouse or children from the second marriage. Claiming that the second spouse or a caregiver exerted undue influence or pressure on the testator is a leading cause of will contests. Whenever a potential heir is excluded from a will or treated differently from other heirs in the same class, will contests are more likely. Also, the older the testator is at the time of making the will, the more likely the will can be challenged based on undue influence or lack of capacity. This is one reason why it is important to engage in estate planning at an earlier age, in addition to the importance of being prepared for any sudden or unexpected event.
Simply because the provisions of a will may seem unfair does not mean the will is invalid. If you have concerns about the validity of a will, we can help you determine the likelihood that a court will agree. If you are an executor of a will and there is a lot of contention among the deceased’s family and beneficiaries, we can help you work through any potential will contests.
Get Help Avoiding or Resolving New York Will Contests in Your Favor
For practical advice and assertive representation regarding a will contest in the Surrogate Court of Ulster, Dutchess or Orange County, call Rusk, Wadlin, Heppner & Martuscello, LLP to speak with skilled, knowledgeable and experienced Hudson Valley estate administration and probate attorneys.