Challenging a properly executed, lawyer drafted will is arguably one of the most difficult legal undertakings there is. This is mainly because an attorney drafted will with affidavits from the attesting witnesses creates a strong presumption of both testamentary capacity (mental soundness) and regularity in relation to the execution of the will itself. These are two of the three main ways to challenge a will, the third being undue influence.
Recently our law firm successfully challenged such a will that had been drafted and supervised by an attorney draftsman with affidavits from the attesting witnesses. This case involved an opportunistic criminal who was estranged from her frail, dying mother for many years before coming back home to take care of her. Once back home her mother became her prisoner, isolated from the outside world and at the mercy of her daughter.
We used our particular set of facts to rebut the strong presumption of regularity and validity created by the attorney draftsman. Through circumstantial medical evidence of the testator who signed the purported will in the hospital, on her deathbed we were able to begin questioning the validity of the will. Additionally we were able to successfully attack the credibility of each of the attesting witness statement affidavits and the attorney draftsman himself for using such poor judgment in the execution of the will through pre-trial testimony. In the end we used all of our medical evidence, witness testimony, bank records and law to ensure the culprit in this case did not benefit from this ill conceived will.
In New York, wills executed by an attorney draftsman may seem impenetrable and are accompanied by a strong presumption of validity in the courts. However a good estate attorney can always unravel a will derived out of undue influence or fraud with some investigative work and quality lawyering. Over the years the New York estate attorneys at The Law Offices of Jason W. Stern & Associates have maintained an impressive track record of uncovering elaborate schemes to defraud beneficiaries from their rightful inheritance and enforcing the New York estate laws accordingly.