One of the main reasons that New York residents take the time to make clear estate plans is to save their loved ones from having to guess what their intentions were for the disposition of their end-of-life wealth and assets. An estate plan does not have to be complicated to serve its purpose: the creation of several key documents can make all the difference between an estate that is subject to interpretation in probate and one that is efficiently distributed to a decedent’s beneficiaries.

However, just having an estate plan is not enough to ensure that the resolution of a person’s end of life estate will be a smooth process. In fact, challenges to decedents’ wills are not uncommon and can create problems for estate administrators who wish to execute the intentions of the decedents they serve. This post will discuss just a few of the ways that wills may be challenged after decedents’ deaths; further information on this complex legal topic should be sought from an estate planning attorney.

Many wills are challenged because they are technically deficient. This can mean that they are not signed, that they are not attested to by enough witnesses or that there are multiple copies of a decedent’s will that all may be the most current. These problems may be easily avoided by working with attorneys who prepare wills and trusts as a part of their legal practices.

Other challenges can be more complicated. For example, if a beneficiary claims that the decedent was not of sound mind when they created their will, a court may overturn the terms of their testamentary document. The same may occur if fraud or duress was present when a will was signed. Any challenge to a will should be taken seriously and can be assessed by a legal professional who supports estate planning clients.