You received a packet in the mail. It contains a waiver and consent to probate, a copy of a will and a cover letter asking you to sign the waiver and mail it back “to expedite the process.” You can either ignore the packet, sign the waiver and send it back, or call a lawyer and ask. What do you do?
First, you start by reviewing the will very carefully. Are you sure that the will leaves you a fair share of the estate? And, are you sure that the executor is going to carry out the will correctly? If you are satisfied with both of those things, then you can sign the waiver and send it back.
If you have any questions or any doubts, play it safe and call a lawyer. Most will talk to you for free. You can pick an estate lawyer from Google, or just call me or send me an email. Do not call the lawyer who’s sent the packet – they are playing for the other team. For all you know, they may be hired to diminish your share of the estate or leave you with nothing.
You may feel that even though you are not getting a fair share of the estate, you don’t care. If that’s the case, you can just ignore the whole thing and go on with your life.
The majority of estates are routine and conflict-free. If the will leaves you a fair share of the estate, no reason not to sign the waiver. If the will does not leave you a fair share of the estate and you are fine with that, then you have no reason not to sign the waiver. But if you are planning to sue the person who’s sent you the packet, don’t sign their waiver. If you are planning to challenge the validity of the will, or have evidence to show that the Executor is not fit to represent every one’s interest in the estate, then don’t sign the waiver, call a lawyer instead.
Don’t worry, it’s not a waiver of your inheritance. It’s a waiver of the right to contest the will. But be careful – if you think you have any reason at all to contest the will, don’t sign the waiver. Once you sign it, there’s no going back.
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Don’t Sign Waiver and Consent to Probate if You in Any Way Disagree with the Will or the Executor
If you in any way disagree with the situation, don’t sign the waiver and consent to probate. If you sign it, you forever give up your right to bring a will contest. So if you think that the will is defective, there was undue influence, or the person making the will did not have the mental capacity to make a will, do not sign it. If you think that there is something suspicious going on, get in touch with a New York estate lawyer (you can call Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233). Do not lose your chance of contesting the will.
The Will Can Be Probated Even Without Your Signature
Not signing the waiver and consent to probate doesn’t mean that the will is not going to be probated. If you really wish to object to the probate of the will, you will have to wait for a Citation to be issued and look up the court date on the Citation, and then get in touch with a New York estate lawyer to represent you at the hearing. Not signing the waiver and consent to probate will not be enough. You would have to take action.
Appointment of Estate Executor
Before an Executor who is nominated by a will can be appointed by the Surrogate’s Court to act as an Executor in a New York estate, they have to give notice to all of the people who would benefit from the estate of the person who died, whether or not they are in the will. If the will is close to what everyone would have received if not for the will, there is usually not a problem for the Executor to have everyone sign waivers. Likewise, if the estate plan has been discussed with the family before, everyone is in agreement, everyone is familiar with what is in the estate, and the estate is not that large. However, it is better to be safe than sorry and consult an attorney before you sign a waiver and consent to probate.
If you are thinking about contesting a will, do not sign the waiver and consent to probate. Signing it will destroy your chance of ever contesting a will.
A typical waiver and consent to probate states that “The undersigned, being of full age and sound mind, residing at the address written below and interested in this proceeding as set forth in paragraph 6a of the petition, hereby waives the issuance and service of citation, in this matter and consents that the court admit to probate the decedent’s Last Will and Testament. Therefore, if you for any reason do not consent to the probate, or do not consent to the Executor that is being nominated, or have any suspicion about what is happening in the estate, speak to an attorney instead of just signing the waiver and consent to probate and sending it out.
The waiver and consent to probate may have included a letter from an attorney. Be mindful of the fact that this letter came from the attorney for the nominated Executor. They are not your attorney and are not necessarily looking out for your best interests. Their duty is to the executor, and they may be trying to trick you into signing the waiver and consent to probate in order to advantage their client and disadvantage you.
If you received a waiver and consent to probate, speak with an attorney. My name is Albert Godwin, and I have been a New York estate attorney for over a decade.
Call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233, New York estate, guardianship, wills, trust, Medicaid and probate lawyer, and make an appointment to discuss the waiver and consent to probate that you have received.