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3 things to know about contesting a will in New York

Contesting a will is something you may need to do if your parent passes away and everything isn’t as you expected. For instance, if you had previously been the main heir to your parent’s estate and now it’s going to someone outside the family, that could draw some red flags. If you’re not sure that the will was changed appropriately, you can contest it. Here are a few things you need to know.

Establish legal grounds

The first thing you need to do is to establish that you have legal grounds to contest the will. One reason you might have is if you think someone influenced your parent in a way that was not fair to the family. For example, if your mom had dementia, a caregiver might have asked her to sign something when she didn’t understand what she was doing. This may also constitute fraud.

Improper execution is another claim you can make in court. It means that the will was not prepared correctly under the laws of the state, so it should not be upheld. A lack of capacity is the final item you can claim if you want to contest a will. If you claim your parent had a lack of capacity, it means that he or she was unable to make decisions at that time due to mental illness, disease or other causes.

Expect to pay some money

Contesting a will does cost money, and it may be worth looking into how much it will cost you to see if it’s worth the battle in court. It may not be worth pursuing the claim if you’ll lose money even if you win, for instance. Your attorney can talk to you more about the possibility of not only winning a case but what would happen if you lose.

Understand what you are getting into

With the right documentation, making a successful claim is possible. Wills, when created legally, are binding, but you have the right to contest one if something doesn’t seem right. Make sure your claim is a result of actual wrongdoing, and not one of sibling rivalry. You need to document everything you can to show that someone took advantage of your mother or father to prove your side of the case and to get the court to overturn the will. Video evidence or witness testimonies could help.

This takes time, and it can cause a rift in families if no wrongdoing took place. Be careful about what you choose to pursue if you don’t have evidence.


  1. MaryAnn Hutchison says:

    My great aunt passed away in 2016 in Woodside, NY. My father was her first cousin. My great aunt never married, no children, and no siblings. My four sisters and I waived any claims to her will last year. We all now have received a request for us to appear in Jamaica, NY on 6/27/19. Due to various corrections that the Court has required her attorney to make to language contained in the Waiver that was previous sent to and executed by me, her attorney is unable to use that waiver. I don’t know if I should appear or not. I live in Arizona.

  2. Julie says:

    Was this matter ever sorted out?

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