The process of executing a loved one’s last will and testament is always tumultuous and emotional, even when nothing goes wrong. And yet, sometimes people will attempt to contest a will, either because they think something is wrong with it, or because they hope to gain from it. But why might you want to contest someone’s will?

  1. You think the will might be fake
    • One potential reason to contest a will is you believe that the will itself has been forged. It could be that someone submitted a fake version of the will with fake signatures, or it could be that one part seems like it has been modified in a suspicious way. Whatever the reason for your suspicion, though, a faked will is a good cause for a will contest.
  2. You think the will was the result of undue influence
    • Another reason to potentially contest a will is that it was the product of undue influence. This means that the will was not written by the free will of the testator (the person who wrote the will), but was instead coerced by some means. For example, someone might have threatened the testator to change the will, or may have used a deliberately cultivated relationship to convince a vulnerable testator to change the will to benefit them.
  3. You think the testator was not of sound mind
    • People may also contest a will if they believe the testator was not of sound mind and body when they wrote it. This means that, while the will itself may be valid on the surface, it was not written in a state when the testator was physically and mentally healthy. If a will is written when a testator does not have the mental capacity to express their wishes, a court may find the will is invalid when it is contested.
  4. You have a more recent version of the will
    • You may also contest a will if you have located a more recent version of the will in question. Generally speaking, a new last will and testament replaces all prior versions of the same document, thus making any differences between versions potentially significant. This could substantially change who inherits under the will, what they inherit, or any number of other potential factors.
  5. You think the executor is the wrong person for the job
    • Sometimes, people will contest a will not because of the text of the will itself, but rather because of who is executing it. The job of executor is essential to carrying out the will, and they have a lot of power over a testator’s estate to carry out their duties. If an executor chooses to abuse that authority, or is negligent in their duties, it may become necessary to go to the court to get a new executor that can better carry out this essential role.

    The estate planning attorneys at David J. Lorber & Associates, PLLC will work with you to handle all of your trust and estate law needs, including assisting in estate law litigation. For comprehensive estate and elder law services in New York, call David J. Lorber & Associates, PLLC at (631) 750-0900 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation at our Setauket office.

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