Are you entitled to part of an estate but have been denied? Estate Litigation is complicated. Make sure the right attorney is by your side.
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The loss of a loved one can take an emotional toll on any family, and unfortunately, while you seek a path to get over the loss, there are estate matters to settle. When Estate Administration gets complicated by disputes, misunderstandings or other family issues, working with an estate litigation attorney at the Law Offices of Michael W. Alpert, Esq. will provide you with professional and dedicated representation in the areas of wills/trust contests, spousal right of election, contested accounting/breach of fiduciary duty, beneficiary rights, and contested powers of attorney.
The process of probate and estate administration becomes less complicated if the intentions of the decedent are clearly stated. However, in some situations, the process can be delayed and could result in conflicts and litigation. A Long Island, NY estate litigation attorney from our firm has the experience to assist in these important personal and financial matters.
For immediate assistance, call (516) 290-7288 to speak to an attorney now.
The Law Offices of Michael W. Alpert, Esq. understand the emotional and financial complexities involved in estate litigation. While it is our goal to come up with practical and amicable solutions to help avoid additional expense and unnecessary aggravations, should the need arise for estate litigation, we will be your zealous advocates. We will take the time to understand your needs and make a plan that will find you the most suitable resolution.
Can A Will Be Contested With Your Estate Litigation Lawyer?
A Will can be contested on various grounds; however, it involves complex nuances procedural issues. Hiring an experienced Long Island estate litigation lawyer will ensure that the intent of the decedent will be properly carried out.
Four Key Types Of Objections To A Will That Will Be Admitted To Probate: Contesting An Improperly Executed Will
- The proper formalities of due and proper execution according to statute were not followed.
- The potential lack of testamentary capacity of the testator
- Centers on undue influence e.g. a family member coerced the testator
- If the Will was executed and the Testator signed said document under a perpetrated fraud
In detail, here are some of the grounds upon which a will can be contested:
The Will Has Been Improperly Executed
A will should be duly signed by the Testator and at least two witnesses at the end of the document. A will can be contested if the drafting of the will does not meet the legal requirements and if there are ambiguities found in the document.
Mental Competence of the Testator
A will can be declared invalid if it can be proven that the testator was not mentally competent at the time the will was drafted or executed. It is important that the testator understands the extent and nature of their assets and is aware of whom the assets will be distributed to. The burden on declaring a will void clearly rests upon the objecting party (objectant) to overcome the well-established presumption that a will is valid. It is paramount that the intent of the decedent is properly carried out, and that will be a crucial factor for the Court.
Will Was Procured As A Result Of Fraud Or Undue Influence
A will could be deemed invalid if the testator was forced or improperly compelled to execute a will. If the will is signed based on false statements, then it will be considered as a fraudulent will and will be voided. As with the mental competence (or lack thereof) of the testator, these objections are difficult to prove and require an estate litigation firm well versed with the laws of the surrogate’s court governing contests of wills.
There Is A Second Will
If the second will is proven valid, it will replace the previous will. Any objection concerning the validity of the will, should be initiated immediately. The rationale behind the strict timeliness is to ensure that after the bills are paid, the assets will be distributed to the beneficiaries in a timely manner. And once admitted into probate, it is extremely difficult to contest the validity of the will after deemed valid by the court.
Surviving Spouse’s Right of Election
In New York, the law protects the inheritance rights of a spouse. The spouse is entitled to an “elective share” of the assets which is one-third of the estate or $50,000.00 and which includes properties. This will include non-probate assets such as joint bank accounts and other assets known as testamentary substitutes. One such asset which would not be subject to the elective share would be proceeds from a life insurance policy to a named beneficiary other than the spouse.
The surviving spouse can file the right of election if he or she has not inherited assets that are at least equal to the elective share of the estate. The statute of limitations for filing is 6 months right after the appointment of an estate administrator or executor.
Please contact Michael W. Alpert, Esq., an experienced Litigation attorney either via e-mail or call (516) 280-7288. Our office serves clients throughout Long Island, NY.
Contested Accounting and Breach of Fiduciary Duty
Typically, the estate or trust beneficiary is entitled to an accounting by the trustee, administrator or executor. It must contain a listing of all assets received and income earned as well as gains and losses from investments. Due to mismanagement, an accounting may fail to include all assets or indicate losses. A trustee, executor or administrator may be charged if they caused inappropriate losses to an estate or trust. They will be required to reimburse the estate. Please contact a Suffolk County or Nassau County estate litigation attorney should a situation involving breach of fiduciary duty arise.
A fiduciary is a person who holds a special relationship of trust, confidence and responsibility. Executors, administrators and trustees are examples of positions that carry fiduciary responsibility. In such situations, the executor or administrator (as fiduciary) is charged with the task of ensuring that the asset distribution complies with the wishes of the testator as stated in their will. A fiduciary is not permitted to benefit from the estate/trust assets to the detriment of the beneficiaries he/she is entrusted to protect (self-dealing).
New York Estate Litigation Lawyer: Protecting Beneficiaries
There are circumstances that a beneficiary may object to the actions of the fiduciary. The beneficiary could initiate legal actions if the fiduciary acted inappropriately in the administration of a trust or an estate. Below are grounds for filing such lawsuit:
- Mismanagement of assets during the estate administration process which includes failure to invest and accurate accounting of those assets
- Failure to provide correct information to beneficiaries and other parties involve
- Removal of property from an estate without consent
- Self-dealing – if assets were transferred from an estate to the fiduciary while the process of administering the estate is ongoing
- Failure to execute the testator’s wishes
- Failure to conclude the administration process at the right time
If you have experienced an estate dispute, please contact the Law Offices of Michael W. Alpert, Esq., an experienced estate litigation lawyer located in Nassau County to ensure your beneficiary rights are protected. Call (516) 280-7288 or contact us online.
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