Following the probate of a will, the executor, the designated person who will carry out the will’s terms, is provided with a tremendous amount of power. Sometimes, the executor may abuse this power by hiding assets or not acting according to the will of the deceased. In other cases, the decedent may have left confusing instructions, or have left multiple wills. Should you feel there is something wrong with the administration of an estate or will, there is a short window of time to contest it, and it is critical to have proper legal representation.
When Can a Will Be Contested?
Not just anyone can contest a will. In order to formally challenge a will, a person must fall within one of two categories:
- The will’s beneficiaries, which include anyone mentioned in the will.
- Those who may not be found in the will but stand to inherit based on New Jersey laws of intestacy. This typically applies to family members who were not listed in the will but were also not specifically disinherited by the decedent.
Those seeking to contest a will must have reason to believe that the will is invalid. Some of the circumstances in which a will can be declared invalid include but are not limited to:
- Mental Incapacity – If the will was executed at a time when the testator was incapacitated or mentally impaired, the will can be considered invalid.
- Undue Influence – If the will was executed under threat or persuasion, then the testator is considered to have been under undue influence, and the will can be declared invalid.
- Fraud – If the testator was misled by a third party, the protesting party can contest the will.
- Will does not follow procedure – A will must be executed under specific circumstances. If a will was not signed in the presence of the proper number of witnesses or was signed by someone other than the testator, the will was not officially executed in accordance with the law and is considered invalid.
The attorneys at Himelman and Himelman have extensive experience in contested wills and probate law. We understand that these can be complicated and emotional situations, and handle such matters with the utmost compassion and understanding. Contact us today to discuss your situation.