Sometimes, heirs of a decedent may wish to contest the probate of a will. This usually occurs when heirs would be entitled to more of a decedent’s assets if there were no will than the actual will bequeaths them. Individuals in New York and other jurisdictions should keep certain things in mind when contesting a will.
Grounds to contest a will
It is first important to know if an heir has grounds to contest a will. If the testator did not have the mental capacity to make a will, a will should not be admitted to probate. Moreover, if individuals exerted undue influence on the testator, the will may not be valid. An experienced probate litigation attorney should know if someone has grounds to contest a will.
An heir needs to provide notice to a court that they wish to contest the will. Often, the executor of an estate needs to send out information about the probate process to heirs, and individuals should use this information when filing the notice contesting a will. It may be beneficial to have a probate litigation lawyer to ensure that the notice is properly filed.
A court will usually then schedule a hearing to evaluate evidence related to the will contest. At this time, parties contesting a will have the opportunity to introduce testimony about any alleged undue influence on or mental infirmities experienced by a testator. Documentary evidence may also be introduced at this time for consideration by the court.
The court will issue a decision about whether a will must be admitted to probate or not. If a party is not satisfied with the decision, they may be able to appeal the order. An experienced probate litigation attorney may help ensure that a person contesting a will has professional guidance throughout the process.