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What can you do about unpleasant surprises in a loved one’s will?

On Behalf of | Jun 25, 2021 | Wills

While some people in New York enjoy a good surprise, a surprise many do not wish is to find out upon a loved one’s death is that that you are inheriting much less than you expected or have been left out of the will entirely. If this happens you may wish to contest the deceased’s will in court. There are a variety of grounds upon which a will contest in New York can be based.

Lack of mental capacity

One ground you can base a will contest on is lack of mental capacity. A person must be of sound mind when executing a will. This means they understand the extent of their assets, who their heirs are and what will become of these assets under the terms of their will after they pass away.

Lack of validity

Under New York law, certain formalities must be met to execute an enforceable will. For example, a will generally must be signed in the presence of a certain number of witnesses. If the proper steps are not made when executing a will, it could make the will invalid.

Undue influence

If a person claims that their loved one’s will should not be followed due to undue influence, they are essentially claiming the following. First, they are claiming their loved one was in a weakened mental state when the will was executed. Second, they are claiming that their loved one was influenced by someone stronger to reduce another heir’s inheritance or disinherit that heir entirely.


If you believe your loved one only executed a will out of duress you may have grounds to contest the will. Duress occurs when a person is under extreme pressure to divide their assets in a way that conflicts with their true wishes.


Fraud is another ground upon which you can contest a will. Fraud takes place when a person lies to your loved one, influencing how your loved one divides their assets between their heirs in their will even if such division goes against your loved one’s wishes.

Learn more about will contests in New York

Learning you are to receive less in an inheritance than what you expected or finding out you have been disinherited entirely can be a distressing experience. When this happens, you may want to learn more about will contests. Our firm’s website may be a good resource for those who want to learn more about probate litigation and other estate planning topics.