Wills - Contested

A Will Contested is a Challenge to that Will

A Will is contested when a distributee or heir at law feels slighted by the testator’s choice of property distribution. Such a challenge may have valid grounds such as improper execution (e.g., the testator did not properly sign it), the testator lacked testamentary capacity (e.g., he did not understand what he was doing), the Will contains a mistake, or it is the result of fraud, undue influence, duress, or insane delusion. A Will contested can be a lengthy and costly affair and create bitterness among family members, so the guidance of a New York City contested wills lawyer may be critical.

New York law provides procedures for the contest of a Will.  These proceedings take place in the New York Surrogate's Court.  The persons that have a right to contest a Will are usually the decedent's next of kin or distributees.  These are the individuals that would receive the estate assets through intestacy if the decedent did not have a Will.  The decedent's distributees are determined by reference to New York Estates, Powers and Trusts Law Section 4-1.1.  This statute entitled "Descent and distribution of a decedent's estate" provides a list of persons who have priority of inheritance beginning with a spouse and children, parents, brothers and sisters and then more remote descendants.  All distributees are required to receive notification from the Court when a Will is filed for probate.  The Court issues a document called a Citation which needs to be served upon all distributees.  The Citation contains a Court date when the distributees can appear in Court and advise the Surrogate that he or she intends to file Objections to the Will.

It is important to recognize that even where the decedent had no contact with certain relatives during life, if these relatives are the closest living distributees at the time of death, they must be provided with notice of the Probate Proceeding and have a right to contest the Will and file objections in the Surrogate's Court. A contested wills lawyer can advise New York City residents on this process. 

Estate Litigation attorneys are aware of the many statutes that can be referred to in contest proceedings.  One of the most important laws is contained in Surrogate's Court Procedure Act 1404.  These provisions allow a party who is considering to file objections to a Will to obtain papers and testimony from the attesting witnesses and the lawyer that drafted the Will.  This discovery information is important in deciding whether to start a contest and decide if there is a basis upon which a Will can be invalidated due to undue influence or lack of testamentary capacity or other grounds.  Most of the time the Court does not invalidate a Will because there is a preference to have the decedent's desires as expressed in a writing prevail over the statutory disposition to distributees.  However, where there is demonstrated proof that a Will is not valid, a person filing a Will contest in New York can succeed.

As a contested wills attorney based in New York City, I have many years of experience working with clients to create wills that effectively express the clients’ personal desires regarding the disposition and protection of assets. I have also represented clients where a will is contested. I have helped many clients in probate matters and estate administration.

For personalized attentive service and a free case evaluation with a New York City contested wills attorney, you can contact me by telephone: (212) 355-2575, fax: (212) 751-5911 or e-mail

New York Probate Lawyer Blog - Contested Estates
Client Reviews
Jules Haas helped me with managing the process in probate court for my father's estate through to its completion upon the sale of my father's house. He was knowledgeable, efficient, and effective in submitting documentation to the probate court, explaining procedures to me, and advising me as to the progress of my case. His support staff was also very helpful. He made what for me created so much anxiety into something manageable where I could see progress every step of the way. His fees were very reasonable. I am super grateful to him for all the help he has provided and strongly recommend his services.
★★★★★
I found Mr. Haas after being misguided by a former attorney. Mr. Jules Haas took our case which involved an estate/trust dispute. What initially seemed like an impossible and overwhelming legal fight was now in the hands of someone who had the integrity and legal expertise to win our case. Mr Haas' attention to detail and his expert knowledge base, skillfully and successfully guided us through an intricate legal process. I am very thankful and grateful to Mr. Jules Haas for representing our interest and ultimately winning. Bringing about a peace of mind we needed. Thank You Devida Nedd
★★★★★
I was in need of a guardianship attorney and I hired the services of Jules M. Haas' Law firm. The service of counselor Haas and his staff, was very profesional and the case was handled in a timely matter. I would strongly recommend his services Angel Guevara
★★★★★
I strongly recommend Jules Haas. I have worked with him for two years and he has provided so much support and followed through with everything he promised he would do. His support staff is just as helpful! We had an interesting case and he helped to solve each part of it legally and was very thorough. Thank you for everything you have done to finalize our families estate Robyn Stafford
★★★★★