In general, there are strict time limitations on when you have to file a legal action in the state of New Jersey. For example, if you are injured in an accident, you have two years to file a claim against the person or party responsible for your injuries. When it comes to contesting a will, however, the time limitations are much shorter, making it critical to speak with an attorney as soon as you realize there may be an issue with a will that may affect you.
You can contest a will immediately after a person passes away by filing a caveat with the Surrogate’s Court in a county in which the person either owned property or lived. Importantly, a will cannot be submitted to probate for 10 days, so it is best to file within this period. If a caveat is filed, the Surrogate Court cannot enter the will into probate until the issue is heard by a judge.
If you fail to file a caveat before the will is submitted to probate, you will need to file a complaint in New Jersey Superior Court in order to contest a will. If you live in New Jersey, you have four months to file, while if you live elsewhere, you have six months to file. The Court is authorized to extend this time limit for up to 30 days if neither party will be irreparably harmed by the extension.
Exceptions to the Rule
In certain circumstances, a court may revisit a final judgment or order regarding a will after the time limit discussed above has passed. For example, this situation may arise when a judgment or order was based on a mistake of fact or if a newer will is discovered. Generally, these types of challenges need to be made within one year of the judgment, but can be made within a “reasonable” amount of time in certain circumstances.
Call a New Jersey Probate Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case
If you are considering filing a will contest in the state of New Jersey, time is of the essence. Failure to file a challenge to a will within the allotted time limit can result in an inability to file one at all. For this reason, you should contact an attorney as soon as you become aware of the fact that you may want to challenge a will. For a free consultation with New Jersey attorney Edward V. Murachanian, call our office today at 732-477-3030 or send us an email through our online contact form.