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Manhattan Will Contest
Manhattan is the most densely populated of the five boroughs of New York City. Lower Manhattan has experienced a baby boom since 2006. The borough as a whole is known as a hub for the financial, media, entertainment, and other industries. Almost 2/3 of all jobs in the City are located in the borough and Midtown is the largest central business district across the globe. With the highest per capita income of any county in the United States, estates in this borough are often substantial. Testators, those who execute wills, may be confronted with improper forces and behavior in connection with their estates; after they pass, and the will is being probated, challenges may arise in connection with its validity. If you need to bring or fight a will contest, you should discuss your situation with experienced Manhattan estate litigation attorney Jules M. Haas.Filing and Fighting Will Contests
Will contests are a form of estate litigation in which a person entitled to challenge a will’s validity does so. When a last will and testament is prepared and the testator (the person who makes the will) dies, it needs to be admitted to probate in order to become effective. If you are next of kin or a distributee of a decedent, you should receive notice of the probate proceeding. This notice is called a citation.
You must have a pecuniary interest in the estate to have the standing needed to bring a will contest. This means you must be either a beneficiary who would get less under the will than you would under the testator’s earlier will, or you must be a distributee, an heir under the intestacy laws, who would get less under the seemingly valid will than you would if there were no will. If you are not someone with a pecuniary interest, your grounds for challenging the will are more limited.
If you have standing to contest a will in Manhattan, your lawyer can file an objection with the Surrogate’s Court to stop the will from being probated. There are a range of different reasons a will contest could be filed including undue influence, fraud, lack of testamentary capacity, the executor’s failure to follow formalities and revocation by the testator.
Attorney Jules Haas also represents nominated executors and proponents of wills: those who believe the last will and testament should be upheld. In these cases, Mr. Haas fights to enforce the validity of the will.Undue Influence
When a will is the result of undue influence in Manhattan, it may be invalidated. The behavior considered to be an undue influence must be coercive, not merely persuasive, such that it prevented the testator from using free will to execute the instrument. Often this basis for a will contest is appropriate where someone had a relationship of trust with the testator and thereby manipulated him or her with regard to the estate.Fraud
Fraud is another basis under which a will contest can be brought. When it is being alleged, the person objecting to the will must show the decedent was misled and it influenced the property division that the will sets forth. If you are our client and object to the will on the basis of fraud, you would need to show elements of fraud with clear and convincing proof.Lack of Testamentary Capacity
In order to make a will, the decedent needs to have testamentary capacity. Factors that will be considered include whether the nature and consequences of executing the will were understood by the decedent, the decedent knew the nature of the property that was being specified in the will, the decedent knew the natural objects of his bounty and his relations with those people. The objects of a decedent’s bounty are not necessarily the same people as his heirs.Failure to Follow Formalities
A will contest can be brought if a decedent did not abide by the formalities required to make a valid will. For instance, a will needs to have two witnesses. If one of the purported witnesses was not present, in fact, there is a failure to follow formalities and the will should not stand.Revocation
Another possible basis for pursuing a will contest is showing that the decedent revoked the will. EPTL section 3-4.1, entitled revocation of wills, includes the rules that need to be followed to revoke a will. Revocation can be accomplished, for example, if a decedent executed another valid will.Retain a Will Contest Lawyer in Manhattan
No matter the age of the people involved, will contests in the City can bring up heated emotions and complex family issues. It is important to retain an estate litigation attorney that understands how to handle the particular concerns you face in connection with a will contest. Call Jules M. Haas now for a free confidential review at (212) 355-2575 or contact him through our online form. We provide a reasonable and flexible fee arrangement and personal representation.