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Does New York Have A Claim For Tortuous Interference With Expected Inheritance?

Is There Anything You Can Do If Someone Gets In The Way Of Your Inheritance Rights

There are countless ways that somebody can interfere with inheritance rights, but what many don’t understand is what would happen after they win a case with the help of their New York estate attorney challenging a will where someone fraudulently had it changed to leave out others and what the new inheritance rights will be. This becomes important when it comes to determining what someone’s rights are in New York when it comes to suing another person for interfering with inheritance rights.

Let’s say that sibling A has the ailing parent of three total siblings sign a will which leaves out all except for sibling A. The elderly parent was told what they were signing was leaving the family home and 50% of the assets to sibling B, who was the primary caregiver and split everything else up amongst the other siblings.

After the parent dies, sibling B and C challenges the will in Surrogate’s Court under a host of challenges and wins. As a result, the fraudulent will is thrown out entirely. What happens then, however, is what most people do not understand.

If a will is thrown out, the estate becomes treated as if the decedent had died intestate. This would mean in this particular case, the assets of the estate would be split evenly among the three siblings, not divided up according to how the decedent believed he or she was leaving the property when signing the fraudulent will.

This means that sibling B is out a significant amount of money due to what is called tortuous interference with the parent’s estate by sibling A. One would think that the next legal step would be for sibling B to file a lawsuit for the amount of inheritance he or she did not get. Unfortunately, this is not allowed in New York, even though the concept is gaining popularity around the country.

Many states, California, for example, are changing their laws to allow for suing for tortuous interference with an inheritance. There have been a number of law review articles supporting it, including one by Harvard Law Review. Tortuous interference with an inheritance is also now recognized by the supreme court.

The idea behind it is that when someone fraudulently has a will changed in a way that deprives another of their inheritance, they would be liable to others who suffered damages as a result. In the case of sibling A and sibling B, it would mean that sibling B would be able to sue sibling A for the difference in what he or she collected under intestacy laws and what the desired inheritance was.

Whenever you have a suspicion that someone has interfered with your inheritance, you should contact a New York estate attorney. While tortuous interference with an inherence is not recognized, you may still be able to collect more than you were left in the will under intestacy laws.