When can people challenge a will in probate?

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When Can People Challenge A Will In Probate

There are few guarantees in life for people in New Jersey, however, one of them is that people will continue to grow older and eventually they will pass away. It is not something people like to think about all the time, but it is going to happen and it is important that people plan for it. People cannot bring their belongings with them when they pass and they generally want their property to end up with certain people.

They can do this by drafting a Will. A Will is a document that specifically states who they want to receive the property. It could be to their children, friends, charities and other people or institutions. It allows people to go around the intestate laws which state who will receive the property if there is no Will. However, they need to be drafted correctly to be valid. If there are issues with how it was drafted, family members may be able to challenge its validity through probate.

Reasons to challenge a Will

There are many different reasons that people may want to challenge the validity of a Will. Some of the common reasons are:

  • Testamentary capacity – In order to be valid people need to understand what they are signing. So, if the person has dementia when they signed the Will, they may not have the capacity to sign the Will.
  • Signs of fraud – This could be another person pressuring the testator into signing a certain Will or could be that the signatures were forged.
  • There is another valid will – throughout one’s life people may draft multiple Wills so there could be a dispute about which one is valid.
  • Does not meet statutory requirements – this could be that there were not enough witnesses, does not contain statutorily required statements, issues over the residence, which state’s laws should be used and others.

Wills are very important documents for people in New Jersey. However, drafting them properly is even more important to ensure they withstand challenges. Experienced attorneys understand how to draft a proper Will and may be a useful resource.


Michael Ritigstein is a Founding Partner of the firm concentrating his efforts in supporting the firm's litigation, corporate and estate matters. Mr. Ritigstein graduated from the University of Delaware in 1996 and Seton Hall University School of Law in 2000. In 2007 he received a Masters of Law in Taxation with a concentration in Estate Planning, from Temple University's Beasley School of Law.

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