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When you can contest a will

If someone wants to contest a will in New York, there must be one or more valid reasons for doing so. Simply disagreeing with the provisions of the will or believing that he or she should have inherited or inherited more is not sufficient. That person must be an “interested party” and must be able to prove that there are defects in the will or in the circumstances surrounding its creation.

Consumer Reports explains that an interested party is someone who is named in the will or someone who would inherit from the deceased person by virtue of state law had he or she died without having a will. Such people typically are family members, but anyone can qualify as an interested party, even if there is no relation to the decedent, if it can be proven that the person was named in a previous will.

In terms of the will itself, findlaw.com sets out three things that most states require that a will contain. These are the following:

  1. It must have at least one substantive provision, such as leaving a specific piece of property to a specific heir.
  2. It must appoint a personal representative, called an executor or executrix, to carry out the wishes of the decedent after his or her death.
  3. It must state that it is, in fact, the will of the testator; that is, the person who created it.

Most will contests, however, challenge the circumstances under which the decedent created the will. For instance, the decedent must have had the testamentary capacity to create the will at the time it was created. Persons younger than 18 years of age generally are not considered to have that capacity; nor is someone who was insane, senile, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol when the will was created. In addition, the testator must not have been under the undue influence of someone, such as a caregiver, who manipulated him or her.

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