One of the most important questions for challenging a will, or for any civil litigation for that matter, is whether you possess standing. Standing is like the main gateway to pass through to start civil litigation. A New York court wants to know that you have a legitimate interest in contesting the will. If not, the court will not allow you to proceed.
As someone handling matters of estate in New York, there are plenty of legal hurdles that you may have to jump. The number of these hurdles can increase dramatically if you have to deal with matters of undue influence on top of everything else. But what undue influence?
Heirs and beneficiaries to a New York estate want the testor's will to have been completed under fair circumstances. A person leaving his or her assets to beneficiaries should do so without any coercive or intrusive influences. However, this may not always be the case. Sometimes a person may actually compose a will under duress. If a heir or beneficiary suspects a testor signed a will under coercive pressure, they can initiate legal action to contest the will.
We often hear that people contest estate executors in court because they failed to fulfill their fiduciary duties. If you are new to estate law and are not at all familiar with the term “fiduciary,” it is important to understand the basics so, in the future, if you should have to deal with a New York estate executor, you will possess a good understanding of how the executor should fulfill his or her task.
Usually, you expect that when a loved one creates a will, it is done of his or her free will without any interference and expresses his or her true wishes. However, there are cases in New York when a will is created under fraudulent terms. When fraud occurs, it can void the will and make it unenforceable. Of course, you must first discover fraud has been committed.
You have carefully worked to legally construct your will. You have followed all the New York laws and filed your will properly. You have been exact with your wording and informed your family of your will's contents in the hopes of avoiding anyone contesting it. With all this done, you probably think you can rest easy knowing your wishes will be carried out exactly as you have stated in your will with no problem.
Having your will contested and it ending up in a New York probate court can be problematic for your loved ones. Probate can be a long process. It also may cause financial hardships for your loved ones who need the money and other assets you left behind. You may be able to avoid having your will go to probate by doing a few things when you are planning your estate.
Wills are disputed for different reasons that have been covered on this blog, such as undue influence. With that in mind, you should recognize that many other issues can lead to a will dispute, such as allegations that the will was not executed properly. From executors to beneficiaries and those creating a will, it is essential to have a firm grasp of rights and any responsibilities. Our New York law office can fully understand the stressors that people come across while handling these matters, but failing to approach the situation with care can be disastrous.
As a single person in New York, you may have never given a single thought towards creating a will. However, most adults should have one. This is especially true if you have children or assets of considerable value. If you die and do not have a will or other estate plan, the state steps in and decides what happens with your assets and your children. This is the last thing you want to happen because it becomes a major headache for your family.
There are many things that could go wrong with your estate after your death in New York. You will not be here to deal with them, so you have to plan ahead and do what you can now to try to prevent anyone contesting your will or making changes that would negatively impact the family members you want to ensure are taken care of. One area where you may be concerned is if you have a disabled child. Ensuring he or she is cared for after you die is likely incredibly important, but a will contest could put that care in jeopardy.