Wills that are admitted to probate in New Jersey are presumed to be valid. However, sometimes a person who was left out of a will, who did not receive the bequest he expected or was in a prior will but left out of the probated will wishes to challenge the will being probated. New Jersey will contest attorneys can help people who believe a testator was fraudulently induced to sign a will.
Likewise, estate administrators can face claims of fraud in the making of a will.
Who Can Contest a Will in New Jersey?
In order to contest a will in New Jersey, the person challenging the will must have standing. That means that the challenger must already be a named beneficiary in the will.
People who would have received a bequest if the deceased had died without a will (“heirs at law”) also have standing to contest the will being probated.
Lastly, a person who was a beneficiary in a prior will, but who is not named in the will being probated, or who received a smaller bequest in the probated will, has standing to contest the will.
How Do You Contest a Will in New Jersey?
There are two ways of contesting wills in New Jersey. The first is by filing a “Caveat” in the county surrogate’s office where the will is to be probated (which is the county in which the deceased lived when she died). That will stop the Surrogate from appointing the executor to begin the probate process. It is the first step in contesting a will.
If the will has already been admitted to probate, the challenger can file an order to show cause in the Superior Court, Chancery Division, Probate Part in the county where the deceased lived at the time of death. All litigation involving wills is handled in the Chancery Division.
New Jersey residents can challenge wills up to four months after the executor’s date of appointment. Out of state residents have six months to file a challenge.
Fraud occurs in the making of a will when a beneficiary makes a misrepresentation to the testator. Because of that misrepresentation, the testator makes a will or changes an existing will, which results in a benefit to the beneficiary.
All three elements have to occur to show a fraud: (1) a misrepresentation; (2) making or changing a will; and (3) a benefit to the beneficiary who made the misrepresentation.
Since the testator has died, experienced New Jersey will contest attorneys will have to find evidence, such as correspondence, texts, emails and witness statements, to either support or refute the fraud claims.
New Jersey Will Contest Attorneys: Fraud
If you need an experienced New Jersey will contest lawyers to contest a will based on fraud or defend against a fraud claim, call Schiller, Pittinger & Galvin, P. C., in our Scotch Plains office at 908-490-0444 on contact us online to set up a consultation.