Do you need an Estate Litigation Lawyer in Long Island or New York City?
Estate planning is the method of devising strategies designed to address, or even avoid altogether, the many challenges that can arise during probate. However, even with proper planning, disputes raised by heirs and/or creditors can create legal issues that require estate litigation. These cases aren’t limited to the rich and famous. If you or someone you love needs legal advice and/or representation regarding estates or trusts, contact an experienced Long Island, New York Estate and Trust litigation Lawyer.
Types of New York Estate Litigation
Probate is a legal proceeding by which the property and assets of a decedent are collected and distributed to heirs. There are many circumstances that can arise which can require estate litigation, including, but not limited to:
1. Will and Trust Contests
One of the most common estate disputes is the contesting of a will. A will can be contested on several grounds. The increase in blended families and second families has increased the complexity of the distribution of estates.
Family members who have been left out of a will, children who have been specifically disinherited by a parent or anyone who feels that a will should not be declared valid have a right to contest a will. When doing so, there are important questions to answer:
- Did the decedent possess testamentary capacity to sign the will?
- Was the decedent influenced by duress or pressure?
- Was fraud involved?
- Were amendments made?
- Was the will executed properly with 2 disinterested witnesses?
- Are there ambiguities in the will that questions the testators intent?
Some of the grounds upon which a will can be contested are:
- Improper Execution of the Will
- Mental Competency of the Testator
- Fraud or undue influence
- Discovery of a second will
2. Contested Accountings
A beneficiary of an estate is entitled to an accounting by the executor, administrator or trustee. The accounting must contain a listing of all assets received, income earned, gains and losses from investments, expenses and distributions. When the accounting fails to list all of the assets or indicate losses due to mismanagement or improper expenses or an executor causes inappropriate losses to an estate or trust, the executor may be held liable for these losses and ordered to reimburse the estate
3. Breach of a Fiduciary Duty
There are times when a beneficiary should object to the actions of the fiduciary and initiate legal action against him/her. Grounds for such a lawsuit include:
- Removal of property from an estate without approval
- Transfer of assets from an estate to the fiduciary during the process of administering the estate (self dealing)
- Financial negligence in handling assets during the process of estate administration including failure to properly invest and account for those assets
- Failure to conclude the administration process in a timely manner
- Failure to provide necessary information to beneficiaries and other interested parties
- Failure to correctly follow the terms of the will and/or trust
4. Surviving Spouse’s Right of Election
New York law protects the inheritance rights of a spouse . Under the law, a spouse is entitled to an “elective share” of the assets which is defined as the greater of $50,000.00 or one-third of the estate and which includes property such as joint bank accounts and certain assets which are known as “testamentary substitutes”.
A spousal right of election can be filed by a surviving spouse who has not inherited assets that are at least equal to the elective share of the estate. The statute of limitations for filing a spousal right of election is six months after an executor or administrator of an estate has been appointed.
Estate Litigation can be an extremely complex and drawn-out process. If you or someone you know has an interest in this type of situation and is seeking representation for this kind of case in Nassau County, Suffolk County, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, or Queens, they should contact an experienced Estate Litigator.
Call 516-605-0625 or contact me online to schedule an appointment. I am available to meet with you at your home or my office.