If the recent reading of a will left you feeling like a neglected stepchild, you have the right to contest the will. There are grounds under which a will can be contested.

  • Testamentary capacity. A legitimate will is one drawn and executed by a person who was in sound mind and had the legal capacity to do so. The person presenting will for probate must be able to prove that the maker of the will was competent to do so at the time of execution.
  • Improper execution. In addition to have the testamentary capacity, the execution of a will must be witnessed by at least one person (preferably two).
  • Undue influence or duress. A will that was drawn and executed under coercion or pressure from outside sources or persons who had something to gain from the will can be contested.
  • Fraud. You can contest a will that was drawn and execution under deception by another person.
  • Forgery. A will signed by anyone other than the testator is automatically contestable. You will need to prove that the signature is in fact a forgery.
  • Revocation. This refers to any act on the part of the testator that revokes the will being contested.

You should consult with an attorney who is familiar with the Surrogates Court. You will be required to make what is referred to as a “Prima facie” case that the will was executed under duress or that the maker lacked the testamentary capacity at the time the will was drafted and signed.