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.
Forgery is frequently claimed as a basis to contest 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.
Contesting 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.
New Jersey Will Contest: Forgery
A person contesting the will on the grounds of forgery is alleging that someone other than the testator signed the will. That may be a tough case to prove, given that New Jersey requires two people to witness the testator’s signing of the will. A handwriting expert may need to be hired to support or rebut the claim. Documents the testator signed around the date of the will-cancelled checks, loan applications, correspondence, etc.-will have to be collected for comparison. Furthermore, texts, emails and witness statements at the time of or otherwise concerning the will’s creation will need to be reviewed.
An experienced New Jersey will contest attorney will know what steps to take to either prove the forgery claim or defend against it.
Experienced New Jersey Will Contest Attorneys: Forgery
If you need an experienced New Jersey will contest lawyer to contest a will or defend against a forgery 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.