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Grounds for challenging a probated will

Generally speaking, it is difficult to successfully challenge a will in New Jersey. Around 99 percent of wills nationwide are upheld in their entirety by probate courts. That said, anyone who may have an interest in the estate can bring a challenge. There are several valid grounds to challenge a will.

The most successful grounds are based upon a lack of testamentary capacity or upon a charge of undue influence. Undue influence may be present where the testator, the person who made the will, was manipulated by someone and therefore lacked the free will to create a valid document. A person has testamentary capacity if he or she understands what a will is, the value and extent of the property disposed of by the will, who the beneficiaries will be and how those factors relate to one another.

A third ground for challenging a will is that there is another, more recent will that takes precedence over the one that was probated. It's a good idea to destroy the old will when the new one is created to avoid this type of situation. This is also why wills and other estate planning instruments should be dated.

It may also be possible to challenge a will based on its failure to appoint a personal representative or because it does not state explicitly that is it the testator's will. Individuals who have questions about challenging a will may want to speak with an attorney who has experience in probate and estate administration. Such an attorney may be able to examine a will in search of grounds for challenge or argue during probate litigation on behalf of a disinherited relative.

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Lanza & Lanza LLP
5 Main Street
Flemington, NJ 08822

Phone: 908-905-0183
Fax: 908-782-4012
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