What are the Time Deadlines to Contest a Will in New York?

In New York, there is no set time deadline to contest an estate. Rather, heirs, beneficiaries, and other interested parties will receive notice from the court the executor of the estate intends to enter the last will and testament into probate. However, there are certain deadlines for challenging other aspects of the will, including the accounts of the estate and allegations of theft by the executor.


Before the estate can be divided amongst the beneficiaries, a New York Surrogate Court must accept the last will and testament and enter the estate into probate. After the testator passes away, the surviving spouse and children are informed of the individuals passing, regardless of whether the will mentions these persons.


Next, the executor of the estate will need to ask each of the deceased’s heirs to sign a waiver allowing the estate to enter into probate. Often times, this is not an issue since heirs are often named as beneficiaries to the estate and were hopefully in good standing with the testator before his or her passing.


However, should any of the heirs refuse to sign the waiver, things can before very complicated for all sides. Heirs refusing to sign their waiver will receive a “probate citation” from the court informing the individual when and where the executor will present the estate for probate. If the heir does not show up to this hearing to make his or her objections known, the individual effectively waives his or her right to contest the estate.


Essentially, this court date is the deadline to challenge the will. What happens after the initial hearing will depend on a variety of factors surrounding the case. Furthermore, interested parties like creditors or others holding debts against the estate have their own set of deadlines to resolve but cannot formally challenge the will, only make claims against it to recoup debt.


Statutes of limitations for creditors in New York is seven-months but can be much longer, depending on the circumstances of the case. If creditors do not present these claims to the estate within the afforded timeline, these parties will have no claims against the executor for dispersing assets after the deadline.


Any claims against the estate must be presented to the executor, sometimes known as the fiduciary, in writing by certified mail and contain a statement of facts on why the individual or entity is owed a portion of the estate. Whether you are defending or making a claim against an estate, it is always recommended to speak to an experienced attorney about your situation.

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