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Practicality of Contesting a Will in New York

A will contest is a legal proceeding initiated by an individual who challenges the validity of a will. In New York, the process of contesting a will involves filing a petition with the court that has jurisdiction over the matter, typically the Surrogate's Court. However, before deciding to contest a will, it is essential to understand the practicability of doing so, as will contests can be a complicated and time-consuming process. If you are an interested party in a probate matter where you have concerns about the validity of a will, contact an experienced New York will contest lawyer at Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We will review the evidence and help ensure that your interests are protected.

Factors That Impact the Practicability of a Will Contest

One of the main factors that affect the practicability of a will contest in New York is the availability of evidence to support the claim. In order to contest a will successfully, the challenger must provide credible evidence that proves that the will is invalid. This can be challenging, as the evidence required to invalidate a will can be difficult to obtain, and the legal standard for proving that a will is invalid is high. The challenger must demonstrate that the testator lacked the capacity to make the will, that the will was executed under duress, fraud, or undue influence, or that the will was not properly executed in accordance with the New York laws. It’s important to contact an experienced New York will contest lawyer when considering contesting a will as they can help you assemble the evidence to support a position that the will is invalid.

Another factor that affects the practicability of a will contest is the timing of the contest. In New York, there is a strict statute of limitations for contesting a will. As an experienced will contest attorney serving New York can explain, the deadline for filing a will contest is generally within three years of the date that the will was admitted to probate. Once the statute of limitations has expired, it can be challenging, if not impossible, to contest the will successfully.

In addition, the cost of a will contest can also impact its practicability. Contesting a will can be an expensive and lengthy process. The challenger may be required to pay for legal fees, expert witness fees, and court costs, and these expenses can quickly add up. Moreover, if the challenger loses the case, they may be responsible for paying the legal fees of the other side.

Notable New York Will Contest Cases
  • In the Matter of Estate of Brower, 4 A.D.3d 586, 772 N.Y.S.2d 112 (N.Y. App. Div. 2004). The case involves a dispute over the execution and validity of the will of the decedent, who initially executed a will in 1996 and later revised it in 1999. The petitioner, as executor, offered the 1999 will for probate, but the respondent contested, alleging improper execution, lack of testamentary capacity, and fraud. The court granted summary judgment on fraud and undue influence but denied it on execution and testamentary capacity. The court found no evidence of undue influence and emphasized that respondent's claims lacked supporting evidence, describing them as speculative. However, it acknowledged a triable issue regarding testamentary capacity based on conflicting evidence about the decedent's mental state.
  • In re Estate of Prevratil, 990 N.Y.S.2d 697 (N.Y. App. Div. 2014). This legal case involves the estate of Frank Prevratil, who executed a will on May 24, 2011, five days before his death. The will disinherited one of his sons, Neil Prevratil. Neil contested the will, alleging improper execution, lack of testamentary capacity, and undue influence. The court granted summary judgment in favor of the proponents of the will, dismissing Neil's objections. The court found that the proponents had provided sufficient evidence of testamentary capacity and the absence of undue influence. The no-contest clause was also discussed, with the court emphasizing the need for a sympathetic reading of the will to ascertain the decedent's intent. The court exercised its concurrent jurisdiction to admit the will to probate and address the no-contest clause's construction.
Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

The practicability of a will contest in New York depends on several factors, including the availability of evidence, the timing of the contest, and the cost of the legal process. While will contests can be challenging and time-consuming, there are situations in which they can be practical and successful. An experienced will contest attorney serving new York can help you understand your legal options and guide you through the process of contesting a will, whether through a court proceeding or alternative dispute resolution methods. If you believe that a will may be invalid, contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates at 800-696-9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Manhattan, Long Island, Nassau County, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Suffolk County, Bronx, and Westchester County.

Client Reviews
Mr. Bilkis handled both my father and mother's estate issues through very difficult times he was compassionate kind and understanding. In fact the whole firm showed great empathy. Despite the emotional hard time we were having that quickly and efficiently handle all the matters that were necessary to get us the result we desired. Can't recommend them enough. B.B.
From the very first phone call to Stephen Bilkis' office, the staff was extremely polite and helpful in assisting me. Mr. Bilkis was honest and upfront with me from the beginning in what he projected the outcome of my case would be; in the end we got better results than either of us anticipated. He was very genuine and compassionate in understanding my situation and how this legal matter could effect not only myself but my family as well. I highly recommend this law firm and will most definitely continue using them for any future legal needs. Jarrett
Stephen has handled numerous estate matters, criminal matters and family court matters effectively and with a goal-oriented approach. He gets great results and is a results-oriented attorney. Dustin