The distribution of an estate’s assets may end up delayed in probate court due to a variety of different issues. Sometimes, people raise concerns about the behavior of the representative of the estate and ask the courts to intervene. Other times, creditor claims require careful consideration to better ensure the estate has the resources to meet all of the decedent’s obligations. Additionally, those with an interest in an estate can initiate litigation or file a claim against the estate that can delay asset distribution and diminish the overall value of the estate.
Occasionally, it might actually be the contents of someone’s estate plan itself that leads to litigation. Surviving family members and beneficiaries of someone who has recently passed may occasionally decide to raise concerns about the contents of an estate plan in probate court. For example, they can contest or challenge a will in court to ask the courts to not uphold it. The following are the most common reasons for people to challenge wills in New York.
Allegations of undue influence
A will should be the creation of the testator. The individual discussing what should happen with their property should have total control over the contents of their estate plan. If another person, like a spouse or a caregiver, used their relationship to influence someone’s estate plan, that could be reason for other people to challenge it.
Concerns about testamentary capacity
It is also possible for people to challenge estate planning documents when there is a question about the testator’s cognitive ability at the time they drafted the paperwork. If people can prove that someone suffered from diminished capacity at the time of the document’s creation, the courts may set them aside instead of upholding them.
Claims of statutory violations
There are numerous ways in which someone’s estate plan might violate probate law. Examples could include attempting to disinherit a spouse or having documents that do not technically comply with the state requirements. When there are technical issues with the documents or the terms that they include, people could use that as grounds to challenge them in probate court.
Learning about the most common reasons that people contest wills can benefit those putting together an estate plan and those hoping to inherit from an estate who are worried about the contents of the testamentary documents in question.