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How to dispute a will

When it comes to challenging a will, New York residents may find the process difficult. However, there are times when someone, especially the decedent's spouse, can successfully challenge a will based on certain circumstances.

One of the ways a will can be challenged is if there is an alternate will that trumps the present one. When an outdated will is in the process of being executed, a newer one can trump it. Usually, an older will is destroyed once the testator creates a new will. Since the court's goal is to fulfill the decedent's wishes, it will probably take into consideration an updated will.

Another ground for challenging a will is if the testator's capacity is held in question. In order to prove before a court that a testator lacked testamentary capacity when he or she created a will, there must be evidence showing the testator suffered from substance abuse, insanity, dementia, senility or from another factor that negatively influenced the person's mental abilities at the time the will was written. Moreover, a will is not legal if it was created by a person younger than 18 years of age. However, a will written by a minor is considered legal in some jurisdictions if the minor is married or is serving in the military.

People can also challenge a will if they believe that the will is the result of undue influence, forgery or fraud. It must be clearly evidenced in such cases that the testator was manipulated into writing the will in a way that he or she left all or the majority of his or her valuables to someone who had influence in the testator's life, such as a caregiver, friend or relative.

Disputing a will can be time consuming and complicated. However, an experienced probate attorney could explain the laws regarding the matter and offer solutions that might result in a favorable outcome.

Source: FindLaw, "Reasons to Challenge a Will", accessed on Dec. 9, 2015

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