Receiving an inheritance can be a real blessing. Someone you know and love chooses to pass on some of their most valuable property to you when they die, which could serve as a reminder of their care and also as a way to improve your quality of life.
While you may be grateful for whatever your loved one leaves, you may also question what prompted the decision to leave you a fraction of what your other family members received or to cut you out of the estate plan late in life.
In circumstances where you feel that the will or a plan of your loved one did not reflect their wishes or previous promises, you can potentially contest or challenge the testamentary documents in probate court. What happens if you contest a will in New York?
You can prompt changes to asset distribution
The circumstances leading to your challenge will determine what outcome is possible in probate court. If there is a prior version of the will that is more accurate and you have reason to claim a lack of testamentary capacity on behalf of the testator or undue influence on the part of a beneficiary, the courts may choose to uphold an earlier version of the plan.
In circumstances where there are no other estate planning documents, the courts may treat the estate as though someone died intestate or without any estate documents at all. That would trigger a specific division of assets based on New York state law.
A will contest could affect your inheritance
If the testator included a no-contest clause in their plan, challenging the last wishes in probate court could result in a financial penalty or even your disinheritance. It is crucial for those concerned about or upset by estate plans to review the documents before initiating challenges in court to ensure that there is not a no-contest clause that will penalize them for doing so.
Learning more about the rules that govern probate administration in New York can help you feel confident about asserting yourself if you feel concerned about the terms included in an estate plan.