The Deadlines You Must Know About
If you are in a situation where you believe you are going to have to contest a will, the first step you have to make is to call a Westchester estate attorney and schedule a consultation. In Westchester County and the rest of New York, there are extremely strict deadlines when it comes to contesting a will. If you do not meet these deadlines, it is highly likely that you could lose out on contesting the will altogether, meaning that even if there is a serious issue that is preventing you from your inheritance, there could be nothing you can do about it.
When someone dies and there is a will, the named executor will file paperwork with the Westchester County Surrogate’s Court to have the estate admitted to probate and to have letters testamentary issued. Along with this paperwork, the executor would have to file the will and a death certificate.
In cases where the distribution of the estate would most likely go smoothly, the beneficiaries and heirs would be sent waivers which would allow the estate to be probated when signed. Otherwise, a citation would be issued, one where a return date would be listed when a hearing would take place as to whether or not the estate would be probated. This return date on the paperwork has to be a minimum of 10 days after the citation is issued, though the actual date of the hearing could be farther away than that depending on a number of factors such as the case load of the court at that time. In reality, the date of the hearing is usually a few weeks or months after the citation is filed.
Once someone receives a citation, they have two options. One is to do nothing. If that is what happens, it would be the equivalent of their agreeing to let probate proceedings begin. The other option is to appear at the hearing, preferably with a Westchester estate attorney, to put your objections to the will on the record.
There is very little that can be done if you have an objection to a will and do not show up for the hearing and your chances of having your objections heard at that point are next to none. Usually, if you have waived any opposition to probate, either through signing a waiver or not participating in the hearing, the courts will only reverse this waiver if you make a motion to withdraw the waiver. Often this only results in a ruling favorable to the petitioner in cases of things such as fraud, overreaching, a clerical error or some other cause that can be determined to be strong enough to justify reopening the proceedings.
There are very strict deadlines in place as to how you have to respond to a will being probated in Westchester county and the rest of New York. Because of that, you should contact an experienced Westchester estate attorney as soon as you find out there is a will that you might object to, so that you can protect your rights. Call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (914) 293-2043.