When a challenging a will dies, their property and assets must go through a probate process before it can be distributed among their heirs. Most wills sail through the probate process without a hitch, but sometimes heirs will find reason to contest a will. In a typical challenge, heirs allege that the deceased did not have the mental capacity to understand the will or that they were subject to undue influence during its creation.
Depending on the evidence, successful challenges can void the will in whole or part. This means that state intestacy laws will apply to determine how the estate is distributed. Often, provisions from an earlier will will revive in place of the voided will, but it is possible for a challenge to result in the disintegration of the entire estate.
Challenging a Will: Understanding Your Rights and Options
According to the New York Surrogate’s Court, only parties with a legal interest have standing to file a will contest. This generally includes the decedent’s distributees, legal next of kin, and beneficiaries with a pecuniary interest. However, if you’re considering challenging a will, you should consult with an experienced probate attorney before filing your claim.
Challenging a will is not an easy process, and it can be expensive. Whether it’s worth the cost depends on the size of the estate and the strength of your arguments for the will’s invalidity. Before making a decision, it’s also important to evaluate whether there’s a no-contest clause in the will and understand its impact.