Will contests are challenges to the validity of a will, or — at the very least — challenges that assert that the will is not an accurate reflection of the testator’s intent. For example, if you believe that the testator (your loved one) was coerced by their nurse into modifying the will to include the nurse as a beneficiary, then you may contest the will by arguing that it is invalid due to evidence of coercion.
Will contests are quite complicated. Not only is evidence difficult to come by in many will contest situations, but there are likely to be emotionally fraught hostilities with the heirs (who may feel as though their rightful inheritance is coming under attack). Given these inherent challenges, it is worth consulting an attorney who has extensive experience handling such disputes.
Here at Posternock Apell, PC, we represent clients in a range of estate and probate-related disputes, including will contests. Whether you are an “interested person” seeking to contest a will, or you are defending a will against a contest, we can advocate on your behalf.
Grounds for a will contest in New Jersey:
In order to properly contest a will in New Jersey, the individual (or entity) bringing the contest must have grounds to declare the will invalid. These grounds can include the following:
- Undue influence
- Incapacity of the testator at the time of writing (i.e., intoxication, mental incompetence, etc.)
- Will was modified or a new will was written to supersede the existing one
- Will was not executed in accordance with New Jersey procedural requirements
Administrative and procedural requirements for New Jersey will contests:
In New Jersey — and elsewhere — only interested persons are entitled to bring a will contest against the estate. An interested person is anyone whose own rights, financial status, or general well-being will be affected by the outcome of the probate proceedings at issue.
Importantly, those who want to contest a will need not wait until probate begins. New Jersey law allows for the filing of a caveat, which ensures that the will will be evaluated before the probate process is initiated. If the party contesting the will does not file a caveat, then they may contest the will during the probate process, or even after the completion of probate (so long as the statute of limitations period has not run).
Posternock Apell, PC can resolve your New Jersey will contest through mediation.
Mediation is quite commonly used as a method for resolving the will contest in a peaceful manner. Extended probate litigation can further delay the distribution of the estate assets at issue, and it can be costly, depending on the circumstances. A high-conflict will contest may unnecessarily lengthen the probate litigation process.
By engaging in informal mediation, the parties can meet in a less hostile environment and explain their side of the argument in an attempt to secure a fair settlement. If properly executed, a negotiated settlement can be a win-win for all parties involved.
Schedule a free phone consultation with our experienced South Jersey will contest attorneys.
Whether you are looking to contest a will, or you are defending the will against a contest brought by an interested person, it is important that you get in touch with a qualified attorney who can assist you throughout the dispute process. Here at Posternock Apell, PC, our attorneys have decades of experience representing clients in various stages of a will contest. We provide end-to-end service in the estate planning and litigation contexts, and we are well-equipped to serve as thoughtful advocates during a will contest dispute. Given our comprehensive approach to client engagement, we are often capable of negotiating a favorable resolution to a will contest. In the event that negotiations break down, however, we are more than willing to take the case to court and argue the issues directly.
Want to learn more about how you should proceed? Call (856) 642-6445 or submit an online contact form to get connected to an experienced New Jersey will contest attorney at Posternock Apell, PC. The initial phone consultation is free and carries no obligation. We have an office at 400 North Church St. Suite 250, Moorestown, NJ 08057, as well as offices located in Browns Mills and Philadelphia, PA.