A Last Will and Testament in New York must be admitted to Probate in order for it to become effective. The probate process involves the filing of a petition with the Surrogate’s Court along with additional documents. Persons who are identified as distributees (the decedent’s next of kin) must be notified. This is typically accomplished through the service of a Court issued Citation. Distributees have a right to contest a Will. The New York Probate Lawyers Blog has published many articles concerning the probate and administration of estates and contesting a Will.
Estates, Powers and Trusts Law Section 3-2.1 entitled “Execution and attestation of wills; formal requirements” provides the requirements for the proper execution of a Will. In cases where the statutory steps are not complied with, an objection to a Will can be filed based upon lack of due execution. For instance, two attesting witnesses are required. If there are not two witnesses, a Will can be denied probate.
Other grounds for a contested Will include lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence. While it may seem initially that a Will that is attorney supervised and executed in accordance with the estate law should result in a simple rejection of objections by a Court, that is not always the case.