Losing a loved one is naturally a traumatic experience. When a person discovers that he or she was left out of the will, the trauma is often magnified. However, challenging a will is a complicated process and best handled with legal guidance. Under New York laws, a testator has the final say over whom to name as beneficiaries in a will.
The first step is to speak to the executor who might know the reason for the disinheritance. Obtaining a copy of the will is essential. Anyone who wants to contest a will must have a valid reason. Grounds may exist if there is reasonable proof of a lack of mental capacity in the testator at the time the will was purportedly executed. This means that he or she must have been of sound mind and memory and able to understand the contents of the will when it was signed.
If there is any evidence of coercion or pressure by another party to change the will, or if the will does not meet legal requirements, the document will likely be declared invalid. If there were changes made or a will drafted to replace an earlier version, the executor may know about it and can compare all versions to look for irregularities. Any irregularities found may provide the basis for successfully contesting a will in court.
This is a complicated field of the law, and typically best navigated by an estate planning attorney with extensive experience in will contests. The lawyer can explain the time limit for bringing such a case to court under New York laws. After assessing the circumstances, legal counsel can explain the available options, which might include mediation or litigation, all done with the support and guidance of the attorney.