What Factors Can Invalidate a Will in New York State?

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If you are a distributee or beneficiary who objects to the contents of a will, you have the grounds to contest it. Follow along to find out what issues can invalidate a will in the state of New York and how a seasoned Nassau County estate planning lawyer at Barrows Levy PLLC can assist you in determining whether you have standing to contest a will being offered for probate.

What issues can make a will invalid in New York State?

A will must be properly executed to be considered valid by the state of New York. That is, a valid will must contain the signature of the deceased unless they otherwise directed another to sign in their presence. With this, the deceased must have signed in the presence of two witnesses, who must have signed as witnesses at the request of the deceased. Overall, the deceased must have declared the document to be their will. When an attorney supervises the execution of a will, the proponent of the will is entitled to a presumption of regularity.

Although execution errors of the above are the standard example of an invalid will, the following grounds also establish an improperly executed will that can be contested:

  • Lack of testamentary capacity: the deceased person did not understand the nature and consequences of executing a will, the property they were disposing of, or the natural objects of their bounty and their relations with them.
  • Last-minute changes: if substantial alterations are made to a will close to the end of life, the deceased person may have not had an adequate mental capacity to execute the document.
  • Undue influence: if there is a motive, opportunity, or the actual exercise of undue influence that rises to a level of coercion that restrains the free will and independent action of the deceased in a forceful way. This claim will involve the fact-rich examination of the deceased and their circumstances, the will, and the person alleged to have exercised undue influence. A common example of this action is when a new will is created soon after a person takes control of the deceased person’s healthcare and financial planning, as it can be considered evidence of a confidential relationship.

If any of these factors are applicable, do not hesitate to reach out to our firm today.

Contact Our Experienced Nassau County Firm

Barrows Levy PLLC is a dedicated New York law firm focused on providing quality legal services to clients in New York City and Long Island. If you require a lawyer who has notable experience handling family and estate planning matters, we are available to help. Contact Barrows Levy PLLC to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today. 

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