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Are Most Wills Admitted to New York Probate Without a Will Contest?

24 September 2011 4 Comments

Most Wills are admitted to probate without objection. Often, a dissatisfied family member says that he or she contest the probate of their relative’s Will.

However, only certain individuals can object to the probate of a Will and only on certain grounds.

Only a person who has legal standing may file objections to the probate of a Will. Generally, that standing is limited to individuals who would inherit the decedent’s estate under New York’s intestacy statute if the decedent had died without a Will. For example, if the decedent was survived by two children, but only one is provided for in the will, then the other has standing to challenge the will because that child would have inherited if his parent died without a will.

Even if someone has standing to object to a will, he or she still must have valid grounds for doing so. Generally, the grounds for challenging a will are that 1) the Will was executed improperly, 2) the decedent lacked testamentary capacity, i.e., he or she did not understand what was happening when signing the Will, or 3) that someone exerted undue influence on the decedent, forcing him or her to include terms in the Will that do not reflect his or her wishes. An individual does not have grounds for contesting a Will simply because he/she feels cheated or believes a named beneficiary does not deserve what he/she received.

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Lawrence J. Peck, Esq.
Founder of the Estate Planning New York Group
Manhattan, New York City

P.S. Click here for access to the 26 Most Common Estate Planning Mistakes.


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