Any number of reasons may cause a contest. Sometimes a will contest stems from the deceased’s discomfort with death and taxes, so issues that should have been addressed during lifetime are left unresolved and can only be settled in the Surrogate’s Court. Some Will contests are due to bad drafting by attorneys not trained and experienced in wills, trusts and estate planning. Sometimes dishonest actions by dishonest people cause will contests. As veteran Will Contest Attorneys we get to see the good, the bad and the ugly side of people. From Sussex County in the North, to Cape May County in the south, greed will often raise its ugly head when a person with assets is in a weakened state and susceptible to undue influence.
The parties to a will contest may vary. Our will contest lawyers have represented heirs, descendants, family members who were excluded or received reduced amounts in the Will and charities or other non-profits who the deceased promised a share of the estate. If charities are involved, the attorney general may also become a party to the contest.
Because our will contest lawyers focus exclusively on this area of practice, their experience allows us to explain to the various options available. We are not reinventing the wheel; will contests are an everyday occurrence for our firm. Before venturing into a will contest you should have a good grasp of the costs and the potential outcomes. Will contests are not for the light hearted, and they can become expensive.
Reasons for New Jersey Will Contests
In over 20 years of experience, throughout New Jersey our will contest lawyers have seen many reasons for filing will challenges:
- A person took advantage of another’s weakened intellect and exercised undue influence to their advantage.
- Suspected forgery.
- A Will was drafted and signed, but at death the Will cannot be located.
- A child or other heir is disinherited completely, or does not receive an expected share of the estate.
- The Will was signed when the deceased did not have capacity.
- Disputes over the terms of an otherwise legitimate Will.
- Fraud or coercion was used on the deceased.
Why Retain an Experienced New Jersey Will Contest Lawyer
Will contests take place in the Surrogate’s Court and involve procedures and rules that are unique. If you are in the Camden County Surrogate’s Court, procedures and rules will be applied that are unique to any other Camden County Court, and the same is true for the Atlantic County Surrogate Court, the Ocean County Surrogate Court or any other Surrogate Court. Rather than having an attorney reinvent the wheel, why not retain an experienced New Jersey Will Contest Attorney?
Our Will Contest Lawyers are already skilled in obtaining all the necessary medical records, obtaining and consulting with the experts who will testify during the trial, and deposing both friendly and “reluctant” witnesses. A Will Contest trial is a complex undertaking, and you do not want to waste your time and money.
A Will Contest may not necessarily result in a trial. Many Will Challenge cases settle once discovery begins. This means, once the records are assembled, witnesses discovered and deposed. At this point both parties have a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the case and, if the parties are reasonable, a settlement can be negotiated. This is why it is important to retain an experienced will challenge attorney, who understands the subtleties of will challenges and can predict likely outcomes. If you don’t know the strength of your case, you will not be able to negotiate well. For example, in New Jersey Will Contests even if the Will is found invalid, or a person is discovered to have unduly influenced the deceased, the dishonest person may still have their attorney’s fees paid from the estate. Knowing these things will help increase the chances of settling the will challenge and avoiding a trial.
Throughout our website you may find more information about Will Contests, and estate planning in general. Our firm focuses exclusively in the area of estate planning, probate, and the litigation surrounding estate planning and probate including Will Contests and Will Challenges. If you need assistance with a Will Challenge please call one of our Experienced Will Challenge Lawyers for a free consultation. We practice throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Minnesota and Florida.