my father passed away recently and left his entire estate to my brother. my sister drew up a handwritten codicil and had it witnessed by relatives. is this legal and can she use it to contest the will?
In theory it does not matter in what form the codicil is drawn up as long as it is properly witnessed and executed. The question would be when it was made and in what condition the testator was at the time of the execution. In short, it could be used to contest the "existing" will.
Benjamin G. Kelsen IF YOU LIKE THIS ANSWER PLEASE INDICATE YOUR APPRECIATION BY SELECTING IT AS "BEST ANSWER." Law Offices of Benjamin G. Kelsen, Esq. LLC 179 Cedar Lane Teaneck, NJ 07666 Phone: 201-692-0073/ Fax: 201-692-0151 Web Site: www.kelsenlaw.com / Email: [email protected] NOT LEGAL ADVICE: The above information may contain an opinion which does not constitute legal advice. Unless a retainer agreement has been signed, we are not your legal representatives, and you should not rely on any opinions contained in this message.
The previous commentator is correct. So long as a Codicil is signed, properly witnessed and meets other legal formalities, it can be admitted to probate. NJ does not prohibit relatives or even beneficiaries from being witnesses to Wills. However, a Codicil or any document including a Will can be subject to challenge for undue influence, competency, etc. Further, if you wish to protest the admission of a Will or Codicil for a valid reason, you will need to file a caveat with the Surrogate's Court (I assume Atlantic County from your address - if that was your father's at the time of his death). Good luck!
This message does not constitute legal advice and is for informational purposes only. This message does not establish an attorney-client relationship, which can only be established once a retainer agreement has been fully executed between you and this firm. For legal advice, please contact and retain an attorney of your own choosing for more information.
The handwritten codicil may not be valid. You can prepare your own will or codicil, or have same prepared by an attorney. However, you cannot prepare these documents for another is you are not a licensed attorney. If you are a beneficiary of same, the will or codicil can be declared invalid. In addition, family members drawing up legal documents often can be challenged on the ground of undue influence as well.
This response does not constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. It is also not to be taken as firm legal advice as such would be contingent on a full inquiry by the attorney into the complete background of the facts and circumstances surrounding this matter. The response is meant to be a helpful guide to a question in a manner which reflects the limited information provided by the inquirer.
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline