If you believe a family member or loved one’s wishes have not been properly honored in the process of estate administration, you have a right to contest the will in New Jersey. The probate court will investigate if you believe the deceased person created or changed the will under another person’s influence or that the deceased person was not competent enough to create a will or make changes at the time he or she signed the document. 

Follow these steps to contest the administration of a will in New Jersey. 

Gather evidence 

If you are contesting the will on the grounds of incompetency, you must seek written testimony from your family member’s health care provider at the time he or she signed the will. You can also request copies of the deceased person’s medical records from the applicable dates. To contest on the grounds of undue influence, you must have evidence in the form of phone conversations, emails or other correspondence that proves another person pressured or coerced your loved one into signing or changing the will. You can also invite witnesses who knew your loved one to testify about his or her mental state. 

File a claim 

Submit a complaint with the New Jersey Surrogate Court clerk in the county that is processing the will. Include information about your relevant evidence. The clerk will stamp the submitted complaint. You must provide copies to the estate’s attorney, the will executor and all benefactors or heirs to the person’s estate. 

Attend mediation 

New Jersey typically requests mediation for parties contesting a will. The court clerk will notify all parties by mail about the time, date and location of the mediation session. A trained mediator will attempt to facilitate an agreement. Each party will have the opportunity to present evidence and share testimony. 

If mediation does not succeed, the clerk will notify all parties of a trial date. Again, everyone will have a chance to present evidence. The judge will make a final ruling on the will, and all parties must abide by his or her decision.