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New Jersey estate litigation: Who can contest a will?

When a loved one passes away, it is not uncommon for one or more family members to question the validity of the will. It happens far more often than people would think. When it does, it is tempting to contest the will. According to laws in New Jersey and elsewhere, this can only be done under very specific circumstances and through the estate litigation process.

So, who can contest a will? Any family member or affected party may contest a will. The problem is whether he or she has the legal grounds to do so. There are generally only four reasons that the court will take the contesting of a will seriously. These are that the will was not signed in accordance with state laws, there is a question regarding testamentary capacity, concerns of undue influence and concerns of fraud.

Wills generally need to be signed by the Testator and witnesses at the same time. If that does not happen, the court may rule the will invalid. If the Testator lacked mental capacity to understand what he or she was signing, the will may be invalid. Finally, if one can prove that the will was created as a result of fraud or that the Testator only signed the will while under severe duress, the court may rule it invalid. The key word here is prove.

Proving a will is invalid is not always easy. This does not mean it is hopeless, however. Those who believe that they do have legal grounds to contest the validity of a will in a New Jersey court can do so with the assistance of an experienced estate litigation attorney.

Source:, "Legal Grounds for Contesting a Will", Julie Garber, Accessed on Feb. 15, 2018

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Thomas N. Torzewski, LLC

Torzewski & McInerney, LLC
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