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Valid grounds for contesting a will

If you seek to contest a will in New York, know that there are specific legal grounds you must use to do so. You cannot, for example, dispute the validity of a will simply because you disagree with how it allocates assets, or because something contained in it surprises you. At Goldberg Sager & Associates, we help many clients navigate complex estate planning issues, and we are well-versed in the four legal grounds under which you made contest a will.

Per The Balance, a commonly cited reason for contesting a will is that the testator, or the person authoring the will, lacked the testamentary capacity to do so. Essentially, this means he or she lacked the mental capability necessary to truly comprehend the value of the his or her assets and make determinations about how to allocate them. You may need to rely on a doctor or the witnesses who were present at the will’s signing to make your case.

You may also be able to dispute a will not authored and signed in accordance with state laws.  For example, in New York, you must sign the will with two witnesses present, and they must both sign the document, too. If, say, only one witness is present at the will’s signing, the validity of the document may be up for debate. A third legal grounds for contesting a will is fraud. You may argue that fraud took place if you feel the testator thought he or she was signing something other than a will, such as a contract of some sort or a power of attorney.

The fourth legal ground for disputing a will is on the basis of undue influence. Undue influence can be hard to prove, but it typically implies that the testator was subject to intense pressure from someone else to the point that he or she could no longer exercise free will in making associated decisions.

For more about will and other estate planning documents and measures, please visit our web page. 

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