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What reasons are there for contesting a will in New York?

On Behalf of | May 30, 2024 | Probate Disputes |

When someone dies, it unleashes a flood of emotions. Besides the sadness of losing a dear soul, there is the matter of the will, which some may question.

Contesting a will in New York requires specific justifications. Only when one or more of these reasons is present may a court entertain declaring it invalid.

Lack of testamentary capacity

A testator, the person for whom the will exists, must have the mental capacity to understand the nature and extent of their property. The individual must also recognize the natural beneficiaries of the estate and comprehend the implications of signing the will. If there is a misunderstanding because of mental illness, dementia or any other condition, it may be possible to declare the will void.

Undue influence

Undue influence happens when there is pressure on the will’s author to change the document so that it disproportionately benefits one person. Proving undue influence requires showing the influencer had the opportunity and motive to exert control over the testator.


If someone deceives another into signing a will, it constitutes fraud. The same holds when the will contains forged signatures or false information. Evidence of deceit or forgery can lead to invalidation.

Improper execution

New York law mandates specific procedures for wills to be binding. For example, the testator must sign the will in the presence of at least two witnesses, who must also sign the document. If this does not happen, a judge might deem the will illegitimate.

More recent will

When a newer version surfaces, it will supersede previous iterations. This can occur if someone creates a new will but does not destroy the old one. A court must determine which document best represents the estateholder’s final wishes.

Contesting a will can help realize the departed’s true intentions. Should objections arise, litigation may be appropriate.

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