Mullen and Iannarone, P.C.
Serving the legal needs of corporations, individuals and
families of Suffolk County since 1972

Challenging a will

When New York residents die, their estate will eventually have to be settled. If they had a valid will, their intentions will be carried out by its executor. However, there are some cases in which an individual's family members may feel that the will does not reflect the true wishes of the testator. In such cases, it is possible to challenge a will.

It should be noted that contesting a will is a serious matter that is often not successful. Still, anyone who could benefit from the estate, such as spouses, children, or relatives, have standing to file a challenge.

Grounds for challenging a will typically touch on issues of fraud, a suggestion that the will is not genuine, or that it was written while the testator was not of sound mind or was under duress. Another possible challenge includes whether the will conforms to state laws that govern the elements of a legal will, such as the number of witnesses needed to sign the document.

For example, it may be possible for a relative to show that a recent change to a will was made while the deceased was extremely ill, recovering from a major medical procedure or under the influence of powerful medications. Elder abuse may also be an issue, and it may be possible to prove that last-minute changes to a will were the result of an elderly person being threatened or mistreated by a beneficiary. In such cases, a court may decide that the will is not valid.

A will contest can severely damage relations among family members. Although no one can predict what people might do in the future, having the assistance of an experienced attorney when preparing a will can at least help to ensure that its execution complies with applicable state law.

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