Could my beneficiaries contest my will?

Will contests are somewhat common in New York. However, if you were concerned about the enforceability of changes you made to your will, it might help to know that successfully contesting a will often takes a solid legal basis, extensive knowledge of case law and familiarity with the probate process of the relevant jurisdiction. Perhaps most importantly, the court would only consider a few people automatically eligible to formally argue with your decisions. 

This does not mean, however, that you would have free reign in distributing your property. The provisions in your will would have to comply with New York law. You could also follow some precautionary steps to ensure that your survivors stay faithful to your intentions.  

One reason that someone might challenge your will would be a lack of appropriate witnesses. A court could support this challenge if there were enough evidence to support the idea that you were not the author of the document in question. It could therefore benefit you to have at least the minimum number of witnesses — two, by New York statute — present when you formalize your document. You could also take other steps to further secure the authenticity of your will against this type of challenge.

Another common challenge is based on the existence of a previous version. It is generally good to keep your will updated, but, when you revise a will, it is often wise to account for any other versions you have written. It is also often important to know when to update your estate management documents. To that end, you might consult FindLaw for a checklist of milestones that could necessitate drafting a new will .

Everyone’s estate is different. Your will is probably an important part of your legacy: something best approached with careful, case-specific planning. As such, please do not view this as legal advice. It is only meant to inform. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *