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What steps must you take when challenging a will?

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2018 | Estate Litigation |

Whether it is in a sudden fatal car crash, at the end of a lengthy illness or simply due to old age, the death of a loved one is never easy. Some people in Parsippany may have executed a will during their lifetime. However, what if after the person’s death an heir does not believe the will should be followed?

It is possible to contest a will, but it is not always easy. The will is considered to be the “last voice” of the deceased person, who can no longer speak for himself. In general, there are three steps a person wishing to contest a will must follow.

First, to contest a will, a person needs to have “standing.” This means that the person must be personally affected by the decision as to whether the will is valid. Generally, this will either be a beneficiary named in the will at issue, one named in a prior will or an intestate heir.

Second, a person only has so much time in which to file a will contest. In New Jersey, the time period is within four months after probate if they are a resident of the state, or six months if they are a non-resident. After these time periods have passed, a person cannot contest a will, even if they would have had standing and grounds to do so.

Third, a person contesting a will must have lawful grounds — that is, a legal reason — to do so. In general, there are four reasons a person might contest a will: if the will wasn’t executed with the statutory legal formalities or lacked the deceased’s signature; if the deceased did not have the mental capacity to execute a will; if the deceased only executed the will under undue influence; and if the will was fraudulent.

In the midst of their grief, a person might have reason to believe that the deceased’s will should not be followed. However, as mentioned above, certain elements must be met in order to succeed in challenging a will. Those wishing to contest a will should make sure they understand what steps they need to take and the strategies they can use in order to do so.