A younger woman married an older man. She may or may not have persuaded him to make a will. What are the chances of winning a will contest against a “trophy wife?”
Some of the most contentious legal battles when it comes to estates come about when adult children end up fighting a step-parent over their parent’s estate. There are countless situations involving these types of battles, from a second wife that had been married to the decedent for decades to much younger wives married to their husbands for a short time before their death and inheriting everything. These are usually the type of estate battles that can end up going on for years, and in New York City, where there can be especially high assets involved, the case can involve a considerable amount of money. If you believe that your parent was wrongly influenced by his or her later spouse to change the will, or you are a spouse who is accused of unduly influencing your husband to make a will, you must contact a New York City estate attorney right away.
In itself, an elderly man marrying a younger woman is not enough to have a will overturned. In fact, in the absence of a pre-nuptial agreement stating the contrary, the spouse would be entitled to a minimum of the spousal elective share of $50,000 or 1/3 of the estate, regardless of how long they were married, even if there was a will cutting her out of the estate. And if the husband died without a will, she would be entitled to an intestate share of one-half of the estate. Even if the younger wife was only married to the older husband for a couple of hours, and there was no prenup, she would still be entitled to her intestate distribution or the spousal elective share, as long as that marriage was otherwise valid.
In cases where the will was changed to leave out everyone except the new wife, if the children wish to have the will overturned, they would have to prove one of the many factors that could be used to prove a will was not lawful. In a case such as an elderly man being persuaded by a much younger woman, this could be a case of mental incapacity, undue influence or a combination of the two. While writing a will in favor of the new wife isn’t alone a way to have the will overturned, it can be used as evidence to show one of these other legal avenues. A will challenge will be especially strong if there is evidence of the testator’s illness or dementia. Overturning a will for undue influence is a heavier burden than overturning a will for lack of mental capacity. And even if the will is overturned, the spouse would still be entitled to her intestate share of about half of the estate if there is no prior will, or to her elective share of one-third of the estate if there was a prior will.
If you believe your loved one was the victim. or you believe that you are being unjustly accused, you need to have experienced legal representation on your side. Hiring a great New York City estate lawyer needs to be your first step. Call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.