During a Will contest, a question may rise as to who is an interested party with regard to an estate. This question is not quite as simple as it may appear at first sight. In fact, the interested parties may be substantially greater than the party initiating the Will contest might have anticipated. As discussed below, interested parties are not merely those who are listed under the Last Will and Testament.

Continue Reading

This blog will explore the possibility of probating a copy of a Decedent’s Will if the original document cannot be located. Typically, the County Surrogate will only accept for Probate an original of a Decedent’s Last Will and Testament. If for some reason an original of a Decedent’s Will cannot be located, a party may apply to the Court to Probate a copy of the Decedent’s Will.

Continue Reading

In general, the time to contest a Last Will and Testament is very short. An in-state resident who is aware of the notice of probate will have four months to challenge a Will from the time it is submitted to probate. On the other hand, an out of state resident would have six months to challenge a Last Will and Testament once it is admitted to probate.

Continue Reading

After a person passes away, their assets are typically divided into probate assets, which are assets which pass through the Estate, and non-probate assets, which are assets which pass outside of the Estate.

Probate assets are those to which a beneficiary is not specified, and thus, the assets become part of the Decedent’s Estate.

Non-probate assets those in which a direct beneficiary is specified by the instrument itself, and therefore, these assets pass outside of the Estate.

Traditionally, an IRA, a joint bank account, and other investment vehicles are considered non-probate assets provided the beneficiary designation or survivorship designation is properly executed.


Continue Reading

It is well accepted law that an Executor of an Estate may use Estate assets to defend any challenges levied against the Will and any provisions contained therein. So long as what is challenged is the Will itself or a provision therein, an Executor may hire an attorney to defend the Estate. Any counsel fees incurred in defending against a challenge to the Will would be payable through the Estate by the Executor. On the other hand, there are limitations as to when an Executor may utilize Estate assets to defend against claims related to non-probate assets.

Continue Reading

Upon the death a loved one, the Last Will and Testament governs how the liquid assets of an Estate are distributed. It is also common that the Last Will and Testament may provide instructions as the distribution of some of the personal property of the Decedent. Even under such circumstances, however, this often leaves a large amount of personal property which has to be divided among the living heirs. There are several different ways in which the remaining items of personal property of the Decedent can be distributed which is discussed below.

Continue Reading

When an Executor named under a Last Will and Testament seeks to probate the Will of the Decedent, the original copy containing the original signatures of the Decedent must be submitted to the Surrogate’s Office. What happens, however, if the original copy with the original signatures cannot be located? Under such circumstances, the only option may be to seek to probate a copy of the original Will.

Continue Reading

Should a person wish to file a Will contest, the first threshold issue which must be addressed is whether that person has standing to file a Will contest.

In general, “standing” means whether a Plaintiff legally has a right to bring a claim to contest a Last Will and Testament in the Court with jurisdiction