All people have control over who will (and won’t) inherit their property after they die by creating a Last Will and Testament. However, if you were disinherited after expecting to be included in a loved one’s will, there are some time-sensitive actions you should take to find out the reason and contest the will in court.
Steps to Take After You Are Left Out of a Loved One’s Will
You should know that courts allow only a handful of valid reasons to contest a will. You must be able to show that the creator of the will was coerced into making the document, lacked the mental capacity to understand the document before signing, or failed to meet state regulations for the legal creation of the will. Courts may also consider your position if there is reason to believe that the deceased simply made an omission or a typo in the will that accidentally disinherited you.
If you think the oversight was unintentional, you should:
- Ask for a copy of the will. If you have reason to believe that you were once included in the will, you may ask the executor for a copy of the current will as well as any previous versions and a list of assets. If the will has entered probate, you may get a copy from the probate court.
- Compare documents. Look closely at the portion of the will that disinherits you. Is there any ambiguous language? Have other people been disinherited as well? If the will was recently changed, you may be able to make a claim of duress or diminished mental capacity.
- Speak to an attorney. If you have followed the above steps or have been unable to obtain a copy of the will, you should now find an experienced New York estate litigation lawyer. Your lawyer can determine if you have a valid cause to contest the will, file before the statute of limitations expires, and guide the estate to mediation to prevent a long court battle.
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