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The New York Probate of a Will Can Be Vacated

Probating a Will in New York can involve many complex procedures. A person typically prepares an estate plan and executes a Last Will so that his intentions regarding the disposition of his estate can be clearly set forth. Since the validity of a Last Will is extremely important, Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) Section 3-2.1 entitled “Execution and attestation of wills; formal requirements” provides strict guidelines for executing a Will. The need for signatures, witnesses and other statutory and legal requirements are all intended to safeguard the Will execution process.

The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has posted many articles concerning probate. When a Will is filed with the Surrogate’s Court for probate, there are many other papers that need to be provided to the Court such as witness affidavits. Also, the decedent’s next of kin must be identified and given the opportunity to object to the Will. A New York City Probate Lawyer is familiar with these requirements.After the Surrogate’s Court is satisfied that the filings with the Court are complete, the Court issues a decree granting probate to the Will and issues letters testamentary to the named executor. However, there are situations where, after a probate decree is issued, certain parties want to vacate or undo the decree. It may be that all of the necessary parties were not provided with proper notice, or one of the interested parties inadvertently missed a deadline to oppose the Will or some other situation exists which would appear to show that the Will should not be validated.

Proceedings to vacate a probate decree are not common. Also, it is difficult to successfully vacate a probate decree. Nevertheless, the Court always needs to be certain that a Will admitted to probate is genuine. A recent Brooklyn estate case entitled Matter of Estate of Thompson, involved the vacating of a probate decree. Thompson was decided by Brooklyn Surrogate John Ingram on August 17, 2018. In this case a 2016 Will was granted probate. Thereafter, individuals who were beneficiaries in an earlier Will dated in 2008 asked the Court to vacate the probate decree so that they could challenge the validity of the 2016 Will.

The Court reviewed the circumstances surrounding the creation and execution of the 2016 Will which was prepared and signed at a time when the decedent was suffering from a major illness. After reviewing the circumstances that existed at the time the 2016 Will was signed, the Court found that a combination of various factors showed that there was at least some doubt concerning the genuineness of the 2016 Will. Therefore, the Surrogate vacated the decree granting probate to the 2016 Will so that the objectants could engage in discovery and obtain more information regarding their claims.

I have represented many clients in Probate cases including Contested Wills and other issues. Call me now for a free review if you have a question or issue regarding a Last Will or estate settlement. I have represented clients in these matters throughout New York City such as Queens Surrogate’s Court, Manhattan Surrogate’s Court and Kings Surrogate’s Court.

An experienced New York trusts and estates lawyer can assist with guidance for proper Will preparation, execution and Will contests. New York Probate Attorney Jules Martin Haas, Esq. has been representing clients in New York in Trusts and Estates matters and Surrogate’s Court proceedings throughout the past 30 years in Suffolk and Nassau and other counties. If you or someone you know is involved with or has questions about a New York estate matter, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 or email: jules.haas@verizon.net, for an initial consultation.

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