What to do if my ex mother-in-law just passed away and at the funeral my sons where told that they were taken out of the Will a couple of months ago?

UPDATED: Jul 12, 2013

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What to do if my ex mother-in-law just passed away and at the funeral my sons where told that they were taken out of the Will a couple of months ago?

My ex-wife was also taken out because she owes me $25,000 in child support; however her sisters will cut her in after. Is there any recourse I can take? Can I contest the Will? I believe my ex mother-in-law was forced to do this when she got ill 2 months ago.

Asked on July 12, 2013 under Estate Planning, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

A will may be contested if you believe that it was changed due to "undue influence" over the decedent--that is, that the decedent's own desires or intentions were overthrown by someone with unusually strong power or influence over her. The common example of this is an elderly person who is essentially "at the mercy" of a child, other relative, or friend who is acting as the caregiver and controlling that person's life, and that person uses that position of power to cause a change in the will. Other, similar grounds for challenging a will include mental incompetence (the decedent was not competent to make a will at the time she did) or the use of force, threats of force, or extortion (i.e. illegal pressure  or means) to cause the change. If there are grounds to believe, then, that the will was procured through improper means or from a mentally incompetent person, there may be grounds to set it aside. This is not easily done; if you are intent on trying this, you are advised to consult with a trusts and estates attorney--preferably one who has experience with challenges to wills--to discuss the situation and your options in more detail.

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