The aging population of New York is virtually beset upon by messages about how and where to direct estate funds. Sometimes, that persuasion comes from personal acquaintances or family members as well. Here at the office of Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C., we often see wills that we suspect were directed, at least in part, by this preponderance of over-generalized or unethical advice.
One of the common reasons why people contest a will in New York is for undue influence. According to the American Bar Association, undue influence is psychological abuse and why there is no one standard definition, it is typically considered any acts of manipulation that forces a person to take or not take a certain action.
New York residents who are dealing with matters of wills and estates will also be dealing with executors. However, situations may come up in which you believe an executor of a will or estate should be removed from their position for whatever reason.
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.
Beneficiaries and those with a pecuniary interest in a given estate are often allowed to participate, in various ways, in the New York probate process. If someone were to disagree with some of the terms of a will, it may not be necessary for the party to contest.
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.