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Court Determines Will Contest Issue


An alleged will was found by the accused among the deceased person’s possessions. The document was signed by the deceased but the signatures of the witnesses are torn off and missing. The accused states that the attorney whose name appears at the back of the will does not remember having such document as the alleged will or attending on the execution of any will by the deceased. The complainant was named as the executor and sole beneficiary in the will. If the deceased is found to die without a valid will, her sole heir would be her sister, a Finnish citizen who resides in Finland and who intends to file a will contest. Records show that the probate will not be granted and the deceased died without leaving a valid will. Although it is possible that an investigation may reveal and proof may present that the will was validly executed and was not broken and torn by the deceased.

When the complainant learned about the will, his lawyer visited the accused person’s office and requested that the will be filed immediately as required by law. Since the complainant was anxious to file a petition for the validation of the said will, instead of merely filing the will, the accused filed the will on the same day that he filed a petition for the issuance of a ruling to show the reason why the will should not be admitted for validation. A New York Probate Lawyer said they also filed a petition for a ruling to admit the will for validation and directing the issuance of letters of administration to the executor who may qualify or to determine that the act of tearing caused the instrument to be revoked. If the court found that the will was revoked then as an alternative, the complainant request for the issuance of letters of administration to the accused. The accused takes the position that the will is not valid and validation will be denied. Together with the filing of the petition, the accused made a motion that temporary letters of administration be issued to him.

The complainant opposed the motion of the accused for the appointment of the temporary administrator and moved for an order to dismiss the petition to verify the will. He also requested for a further order to authorize him to petition the court to verify the said will. The accused person’s motion was granted and the complainant’s motion was denied. The order denying the complainant’s motion provides that the motion to dismiss the petition for the validation of the will or the alternative issuance of letters of administration to the accused is denied in all respects.

NY Probate Lawyers said the complainant did not move for the dismissal of the entire petition and it is indicated by the fact that he requested for the authorization to petition the court for validation. If the entire proceeding had been dismissed on motion, the complainant would not require authorization to file a petition for the validation. It is possible that the request for such authorization was made in view of the fact that rule of the Surrogate’s Court provides that no petition for the validation of a will or for the grant of letters of administration or of guardianship will be entertained when there is a pending petition of a prior proceeding for the same conclusion respecting the same matter.

The accused was not authorized to submit the will for validation since he was not a person interested in the estate within the definition of law or did he qualify within the provision of the Surrogate’s Court Act which states that the surrogate’s court may direct the public administrator or county treasurer to present a petition if a will has been filed in the surrogate’s office for over sixty days and no other person who is entitled to the petition for its validation has done so. The Surrogate should have granted the motion to dismiss the petition insofar as it sought the validation of the will. In view of the Surrogate’s Court Rules, the Surrogate should have granted the complainant’s motion for the authorization to petition the court for the validation of the will.

In view of the conclusion requested in the complainant’s motion, the Surrogate was not required to dismiss the petition as it search for a purpose that the instrument was revoked by tearing it and as alternative, the letters of administration should be granted to the accused. Nassau County Probate Lawyers said that even if the complainant’s motion search for the dismissal of the entire petition, the proof was sufficient to satisfy the court that deceased died without leaving a valid will. The court also authorized him to issue a citation and to continue the proceeding for the issuance of general letters of administration.

Under the circumstances shown, it may not be held that the Surrogate abused his discretion by the granting of temporary letters of administration to the accused.

After the complainant files a petition for the validation of the alleged will, the parties may request to consolidate the proceeding initiated by him with that portion of the proceeding initiated by the accused which has not been dismissed.

Validity of the document is usually the challenged issue in a contest of a will and this can be resolved through the help of a qualified lawyer. Disputes among families arise that may result to court proceedings and a skilled attorney can be with when issues remain unresolved. If real properties become a part of the will, the guidance from our legal team from Stephen Bilkis and Associates will be a great weapon inside the court room.

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