The grounds for contesting or challenging a will in New York are as follows:
Undue Influence – manipulating a person or pressuring them to make a will in a way that overpowers them and makes them bend to the influencer’s will. In my experience, this is the most commonly used ground in real life New York City will contests.
Fraud – knowingly making a false statement to the person who made the will which caused him to execute a will that disposed of his property in a manner differently than he would have in the absence of that statement
Duress – use of force, false imprisonment or threats … to compel someone to act contrary to his/her wishes or interests
Lack of Capacity – the decedent did not understand
- what they own
- who their relatives and friends are
- what is in their will.
Lack of capacity can arise due to dementia, Alzheimer’s, mental illness, trauma and medication. To put it simply, the person was not well enough to make a will.
Forgery – signing the name of the person who supposedly “made the will” or having someone else pretend to be that person and sign the “will.”
Improper Execution – to meet the requirements of formal execution, the will has to
- be signed by the testator (or in their direction in their presence)
- the signature must be at the end of the will
- the will had to be signed in the presence of each witness
- the testator must have communicated to the witnesses that they are witnessing a will
- two witnesses are required
- the entire ceremony must have been completed within 30 days of the testator’s signature
Revocation – the will was cancelled by the person who originally made it.
Read our thorough article if you would like to know more about how will contests work in New York. If you would like legal representation in a will contest, you can get in touch with me. I litigate New York will contests for over a decade. My name is Albert Goodwin and I can be reached at (212) 233-1233 or by email.
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