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Will Contests & Estate Litigation


When a Will is prepared and executed (signed by the testator in the presence of witnesses), specific formalities are required under New York Law. These procedures serve several purposes, including the prevention of fraud by a beneficiary under a Will who might try to physically or emotionally coerce someone into signing a Will that does not express his or her true intentions, or who might try to take advantage of someone who is not mentally capable of expressing his or her true intentions, due to temporary or permanent mental or emotional disability. When such wrongdoing is claimed, the party making that claim is contesting the validity of the Will.

In New York State, a Will contest is a lawsuit in the Surrogate’s Court claiming that the Will is invalid, and therefore that the decedent’s property should pass either by the terms of a prior Will, or by the laws of intestacy (which provide for distribution of the assets of someone who dies without a valid Will.) The person claiming that the Will is valid (the “proponent of the Will”) provides evidence that the Will was validly executed in conformity with the statutory and procedural requirements of New York law. In contrast, the person contesting the Will provides evidence proving that the Will was not properly executed, either because the strict New York procedural requirements were not followed, or due to fraud, coercion, undue influence, mental incapacity, etc.

We are available to represent you in a Will contest, whether you are the proponent of the Will, or the party claiming that the Will was improperly executed as a result of fraud, coercion, undue influence, or the testator’s mental incapacity, etc.

Where the validity of a Will is contested, prior to the Surrogate’s Court issuing a decision, evidence about the circumstances that preceded the signing of the Will will need to be explored through pretrial discovery. This process in Surrogate’s Court is similar to the pretrial discovery process in other types of litigation. The parties to a Will Contest will likely conduct depositions (“SCPA 1404 examinations”) of the witnesses to the execution of the Will. In addition, SCPA 1404 examinations may be conducted of other people with personal knowledge of facts relevant to the issues in the litigation,

These depositions may include:

    • the attorney who communicated with the decedent, and drafted the Will
    • the attorney who oversaw the decedent’s signing (“execution”) of the Will
    • medical doctors and nurses who treated the decedent
    • home caregivers who assisted the decedent
    • friends and relatives who had personal knowledge of the decedent’s mental competency
    • people who had personal knowledge of the decedent’s relationship with the beneficiaries named in the Will, and with the decedent’s relatives.

Furthermore, a trial may be held at which these people may testify about the decedent’s mental competency, the circumstances surrounding the execution of the Will, including the presence or absence of any coercion or duress exerted upon the decedent, etc..


Contact Our New York Will Contest & Estate Litigation Lawyer

To discuss how we can help you with a New York Will Contest or other New York Estate Litigation, we invite you to complete our Will Contests & Estate Litigation Questionnaire, or click Contact Us. You may also call Michael W. Goldstein for a free initial telephone consultation, or to schedule a consultation at our office.

General Disclaimer

Visiting our website, submitting any information via questionnaire or email, or discussing your case with us does not create an attorney-client relationship with our law firm. An attorney-client relationship with our New York Estate Litigation law firm or our New York Will Contests Lawyer can only be established with the signing of a written retainer agreement prepared by our law firm.
Prior results do not guarantee or predict a similar outcome with respect to any future case or legal matter.
This website is not intended to solicit clients for Will Contests, or Estate Litigation outside of New York State, or any other lawsuit or legal matter outside of New York State. However, we do represent clients who live outside of New York State, and need legal services for a Will Contest or other Estate Litigation in New York State.

New York Will Contests & Surrogate’s Court Litigation Disclaimer

The Will Contests & Estate Litigation information, or other New York legal information contained in this website is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor to create an attorney-client relationship or lawyer-client relationship with our law firm. We recommend that you discuss your New York Will Contest or other contested Surrogate’s Court proceeding with a New York Estate Litigation Attorney or New York Surrogate’s Court Litigation Lawyer promptly.
Michael W. Goldstein is a New York Estate Litigation Lawyer representing clients in New York Will Contests, contested Surrogate’s Court proceedings, and other New York Surrogate’s Court estate litigation.

Our New York Will Contests Lawyer, and New York Estate Litigation Attorney represents clients in New York State, including New York City, Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Long Island, Nassau County, Suffolk County, Westchester County, Rockland County and upstate New York.

Law Offices of Michael W. Goldstein
New York Wills Contests Lawyer
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New York Surrogate’s Court Litigation Lawyer
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