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New York Probate Litigation Lawyer

New York probate litigation is a complex legal process that involves resolving disputes that arise during the administration of a decedent's estate. Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person, which involves identifying and valuing the assets of the estate, paying off any debts and taxes owed, and distributing the remaining assets to the decedent's heirs or beneficiaries. Probate litigation can arise when there are disagreements or disputes among interested parties regarding any of these steps. If you are involved in a disputed related to the estate of a loved one, contact the experienced New York probate litigation lawyer at Stephen Bilkis & Associates. With over 20 years of experiencing successfully representing clients in complex estate matters, we are here to help.

Common Types of Probate Litigation

The New York Surrogate's Court is the court that handles probate litigation in New York. This court has jurisdiction over all matters related to the administration of a decedent's estate, including the probate of wills, the appointment of executors, and the distribution of assets.

Will contest. One common type of probate litigation is a will contest. A will contest is a legal action in which someone challenges the validity of a decedent's will.

The most common grounds for challenging a will include lack of testamentary capacity, undue influence, fraud, and improper execution. Testamentary capacity refers to the mental capacity of the decedent at the time the will was executed. If the decedent did not have the mental capacity to understand the nature and extent of their property and the distribution they were making, the will may be invalidated.

Undue influence occurs when someone uses their position of power or authority to persuade the decedent to make a will that benefits them. Fraud occurs when the decedent was misled or deceived into making a will that did not reflect their true wishes.

Improper execution refers to situations where the will was not executed in accordance with New York law. See EPTL § 3-2.1.

Dispute during administration. Another common type of probate litigation is a dispute over the administration of the estate. This can include disputes over the appointment of the executor, disputes over the valuation of the assets of the estate, and disputes over the distribution of the assets of the estate. In some cases, the executor may be accused of breaching their fiduciary duties by mismanaging the estate, stealing assets, or otherwise acting in a way that harms the interests of the beneficiaries. Litigation during the over fiduciary matters can be complex and emotionally taxing. It’s critical that you contact an experienced New York probate litigation lawyer.

Litigating Estate Matters

There are many different factors that can influence the outcome of probate litigation in New York. Some of the key factors include the strength of the evidence presented by each side, the credibility of the witnesses, the expertise of the attorneys representing each party, and the judge's interpretation of the law.

In order to be successful in probate litigation in New York, it is essential to work with experienced probate litigation attorneys in New York who have a deep understanding of the probate process and the laws governing the administration of estates in New York. They can help their clients navigate the complex legal system, build a strong case based on the facts and evidence, and advocate for their clients' interests in court.

One of the key challenges in probate litigation is that the parties involved often have strong emotions and personal stakes in the outcome of the case. This can make it difficult to reach a resolution that is fair and equitable for everyone involved. Skilled probate litigators understand how to navigate these emotions and can work to find common ground and reach a settlement that satisfies all parties.

In some cases, however, a settlement may not be possible, and the case may need to be resolved in court. In these situations, it is important to have skilled trial attorneys who can effectively present the evidence and arguments in court, and persuade the judge or jury to rule in their client's favor.

Notable New York Probate Litigation Cases
  • Matter of Gross, 577 N.Y.S.2d 195 (N.Y. App. Div. 1991): In this case, the court upheld the decedent's will despite the fact that the will had been executed just two days before the decedent's death and there were questions about the decedent's mental capacity. The court found that the decedent had the requisite mental capacity to execute the will, and that there was no evidence of undue influence.
  • Matter of Brown, 19 N.Y.S.3d 680 (N.Y. App. Div. 2015): In this case, the court invalidated the decedent's will on the grounds of undue influence. The court found that the decedent's sister had exerted undue influence over the decedent and had coerced him into making a will that benefited her at the expense of his other siblings.
  • Matter of Estate of Reiter, 657 N.Y.S.2d 94 (N.Y. App. Div. 1997): In this case, the court addressed the issue of whether a beneficiary of a life insurance policy was entitled to the proceeds of the policy or whether the proceeds should be included in the decedent's estate. The court found that the beneficiary was entitled to the proceeds, as the policy had been properly designated as a payable-on-death account.
  • Matter of Estate of Rigsbee, 6 N.Y.3d 57 (N.Y. 2005): In this case, the court addressed the issue of whether a surviving spouse was entitled to a share of the decedent's estate even though the decedent had left his entire estate to his children. The court found that the surviving spouse was entitled to a share of the estate under New York law, and that the decedent's will was invalid to the extent that it attempted to disinherit the surviving spouse.
Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Overall, probate litigation in New York can be a complex and challenging process, but with an experienced probate litigation attorney serving New York, parties can effectively navigate the process and achieve a favorable outcome. Whether it's a will contest, a dispute over the administration of an estate, or another type of probate litigation, having experienced legal representation is essential for success. Contact us at 800-696-9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Manhattan, Long Island, Nassau County, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Suffolk County, Bronx, and Westchester County.

Client Reviews
Mr. Bilkis handled both my father and mother's estate issues through very difficult times he was compassionate kind and understanding. In fact the whole firm showed great empathy. Despite the emotional hard time we were having that quickly and efficiently handle all the matters that were necessary to get us the result we desired. Can't recommend them enough. B.B.
From the very first phone call to Stephen Bilkis' office, the staff was extremely polite and helpful in assisting me. Mr. Bilkis was honest and upfront with me from the beginning in what he projected the outcome of my case would be; in the end we got better results than either of us anticipated. He was very genuine and compassionate in understanding my situation and how this legal matter could effect not only myself but my family as well. I highly recommend this law firm and will most definitely continue using them for any future legal needs. Jarrett
Stephen has handled numerous estate matters, criminal matters and family court matters effectively and with a goal-oriented approach. He gets great results and is a results-oriented attorney. Dustin