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Can I contest a will?

When a loved one passes away, the last thing anyone wants to do is fight over his or her estate. Unfortunately, every so often, there is good reason to do so. For example, if one believes an issue exists with the will, filing a motion to contest it may be the right thing to do. Not just anyone can challenge a will, though. In New Jersey and elsewhere, only certain individuals have the legal standing to do this. 

To challenge a will, one must be affected by its terms, either personally or financially. Such individuals may be heirs-at-law, disinherited heirs-at-law, beneficiaries listed in a prior will or fiduciaries named in a prior will. Minors are the exception here, as they cannot initiate legal proceedings on their own. A parent or guardian may submit a motion to contest a will on behalf of a minor, however. 

An heir-at-law is someone who falls in the line of intestate succession -- such as a spouse, children, siblings, parents, grandparents, grandchildren or other relatives. A disinherited heir-at-law is someone who falls in the line of succession but is left out of the will. For an heir-at-law to successfully challenge a will, he or she has to prove to the court that he or she was unintentionally cut from the will, or that there is some reason for the document to be declared invalid. For prior beneficiaries and fiduciaries, they must prove in court that they were listed in a previous will, or that the latest document is invalid for some reason. They may also challenge the will if they are still listed in the most recent edition of the document but their inheritance was reduced.

Challenging a will does not always work out in one's favor, but in many cases, it is still worth doing. Those who believe they have grounds to contest a will in New Jersey can turn to legal counsel for guidance on the matter. If, after a careful case review, filing a motion to challenge the document is deemed appropriate, legal counsel can assist one through the process. 

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Thomas N. Torzewski, LLC

Torzewski & McInerney, LLC
60 Washington St
Suite 104
Morristown, NJ 07960

Phone: 973-532-2868
Fax: 973-359-0077
Morristown Office Location