Mourning the loss of a loved one is never easy. However, when you realize you have been unfairly cut out of the will, an overwhelming sense of injustice can add to your profound grief. You may have the right to contest the will and seek the inheritance you deserve. But before you begin, it is vital to empower yourself with knowledge about how these kinds of legal battles play out. Here are five things you should know if you are considering contesting a will in New York.
You Must Have Grounds
You must have valid legal grounds to contest a will in New York. Reasons to challenge a will may include the following:
- The will was forged or fraudulently made.
- The testator (the person who made the will) lacked mental capacity.
- Another individual unduly influenced the testator.
- There were procedural issues with the will’s execution.
Without evidence to support one of these claims, you will not have legal standing to contest the will. An experienced estate litigation attorney can analyze the facts of your case and advise you on the strength of your position.
Time Is Limited
The New York timeline to contest a will may vary depending on the grounds used to pursue the will contest. In most but not all cases, you have two years from the date the will was admitted to probate to file a petition.
No matter how far away it seems, the deadline comes quickly. Moreover, key evidence and witnesses’ memories can fade over time, weakening your case. It is advisable to consult an attorney as soon as possible after you learn you wish to contest a will. An attorney can take swift action to challenge the will within the required timeframe.
You May Have the Option to Settle
Rather than endure the time, expense, and emotions of a full will contest proceeding in court, you may have the option to try to reach a settlement agreement. An experienced attorney can negotiate with the estate executor and other beneficiaries to see if the relevant parties will agree to a compromise.
For instance, you may be able to receive a portion of what you believe you should have inherited, saving everyone the hassle of litigation. Or the estate may agree to release a specified asset to you that has sentimental value. Settlement negotiations require strategic skill and a nuanced understanding of all parties’ interests. Your lawyer will advise you on the pros and cons of pursuing settlement versus litigation.
Be Prepared for an Emotional Process
Contesting a loved one’s will is inevitably emotional. Not only are you mourning their loss, but you may feel a sense of anger, betrayal, and injustice when you learn of your exclusion or receive less than expected. Emotions may run high among other family members as well. Leaning on your lawyer for objective counsel and trusted loved ones for support can help you stay grounded.
You Will Need an Experienced Estate Litigation Attorney
Contesting a will is no simple matter. Understanding New York’s estate laws and procedures requires skill and experience. An estate litigation attorney should have in-depth knowledge of Surrogate’s Court rules and processes and be well-versed in crafting persuasive legal arguments. They will also bring a strategic approach and resolve to what may become a bitter dispute with family members. With an attorney experienced in these complex cases by your side, you can feel confident your case is in the right hands.
Contact Jeffrey M. Rosenblum, P.C.
While contesting a will in New York can be challenging, working with a seasoned estate litigation attorney can help you feel confident that you are taking the proper steps. The experienced legal team at Jeffrey M. Rosenblum, P.C., will fight for your rights and interests so you can optimize your chances of a favorable outcome. With over 40 years of legal experience, you can count on us to stand up for what you deserve. Contact our offices today at 866-637-7300 for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help you.