New York Inheritance Disputes
A New York Probate Attorney will agree, that even with the best laid plans, an inheritance dispute is not uncommon. Your loved one may have created a comprehensive estate plan, complete with all the necessary documents such as a will and trust. When a loved one dies, regardless of the decedent’s intentions, disgruntled family members often come forward contending that they were inadvertently overlooked in the decedent’s will, or are not being given the property that is rightfully theirs. An Inheritance Dispute can not only increase the duration and complexity of a probate, it can also wear heavily on all concerned emotionally. If you are involved in an Inheritance Dispute, it is extremely important to ensure that your rights are protected. If you are dealing with an Inheritance Dispute, or need assistance with an Estate Probate or trust probate, peak with a qualified New York Probate Attorney from our team for legal guidance.
An Inheritance Dispute can take many forms. Usually during the probate process, a loved one comes forward and will contend that there is a problem with the will or other estate documents, or they may take exception to how the estate is being handled. Some frequent contentions are:
One of the most common issues surrounding an inheritance dispute involves a Will Challenge. A family member may feel that there is fraud involved, or that the decedent was under undue influence at the time they signed their will. They may also argue that the decedent lacked the requisite mental capacity to appreciate what they were doing when making a will, and therefore the will should be deemed invalid.
Breach of Fiduciary Duty
Another common contention in an Inheritance Dispute is a breach of fiduciary duty. When an estate is in probate, an executor is appointed to handle the affairs of the estate. This involves taking an inventory of the assets of the estate, paying any creditors or estate taxes, and distributing the assets to the beneficiaries. A beneficiary may feel that the estate is not being handled correctly, and may contend that the assets are not being distributed according to the will, or that the executor is acting in a fraudulent or negligent manner.
A beneficiary of an estate is entitled to receive an accounting by the executor or trustee of the estate. This accounting should include a list of all of the assets in the estate, any income or losses from estate investments, as well as any distributions or expenses attributed to the estate. If an accounting does not disclose all of the assets or losses, it could be argued that the estate is being mismanaged, and the executor could be held liable.
Under New York law, a surviving spouse is entitled to receive a share of the assets of the estate, which can be one third of the state value or greater than $50,000. If a spouse has not received their share, they are entitled to file for their “elective share.”
An Inheritance Dispute is a never easy. You may be still grieving your loss of a family member, and then are called upon to deal with what can be a very stressful situation. Speak to a skilled New York Probate Attorney from Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC. We will provide you with a free consultation with your first visit. We have offices to serve you in Suffolk County and Nassau County on Long Island, and Westchester County. In New York City, we serve Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. Contact us today at 800.696.9529.