Suffolk County Will Challenge
A will challenge, also referred to as a will contest, is a legal challenge to the validity of a will. In other words, a family member or some other interested party believes that the will does not reflect the wishes of the person who purportedly wrote and signed the will. A will contest must be based on more than someone being dissatisfied with the terms of the will. There must be a belief supported by evidence that the will is legally invalid. If a last will and testament is successfully challenged then the judge will not allow the estate to be probated based on the terms of the invalidated will. Instead, a prior will will be probated or the estate will be distributed according to New York's intestate succession rules. In order to ensure that you will survives a challenge, it is important that your will is drafted with the help of an experienced Suffolk County will challenge lawyer who will make sure that is reflects your wishes and that it is executed according to the requirements of New York law.Standing to challenge a will
Before a judge will hear a challenge to a will, the objecting party must establish standing. Under New York law, any person or entity that has a direct financial interest in the estate has the right to file a legal challenge to the validity of the will. Typically, interested parties include those named in the will, those who were named in a prior will, and those not named in the will, but who would stand to benefit financially if there was no will at all.
Those named in the will are called beneficiaries. Beneficiaries can be family members, non-relatives, charitable organizations, educational institutions, or religious organizations. Heirs are those who would have the legal right to benefit financially if there was no will.Grounds for will challenge
As a Suffolk County will challenge lawyer will explain, there are an number of reasons that an interested party may challenge the validity of a will. Common grounds include:
- Improper execution. New York requires that very specific rules are followed in order for a will to be executed.
- Revocation. If will was expressly revoked in a manner that is consistent with New York law, then it is not longer valid.
- Testamentary incapacity. If the testator was under the age of 18, or was mentally incapacitated at the time that it was executed, then the will is not valid.
- Undue influence. Someone uses there power over the testator to influence him to write a favorable will.
- Fraudulent will. The will no written or signed by the testator.
- Lack of knowledge and approval. The testator was not aware of the contents of the will, or signed the document without understanding it.
As an experienced will challenge attorney in Suffolk County will explain, if a will is challenged and the court agrees that it is invalid, then the court will refuse to probate the will. The practical affect is that the court will probate the prior will, or it will treat the estate as if there was no will at all. In other words, the estate will be distributed based on the laws of intestate succession.Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates
If you are a beneficiary, heir, or executor of a will that is the subject of a will challenge, it is important that you are represented by a will challenge attorney serving Suffolk County who has experience. A will challenge can significantly delay the distribution of assets and can be costly to the estate. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully representing clients in matters related to estate litigation. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.