If you are an heir, beneficiary or have an interest in a New York decedent’s estate, and you believe that the executor or administrator may not be acting in your best interests or has breached their fiduciary duty, you should consult with a New York City probate and estate attorney. An attorney can advise you whether you have standing and sufficient grounds to bring a litigation proceeding against the fiduciary. Generally, an heir, beneficiary, creditor or another interested party to a New York decedent’s estate has the right to bring about proceedings for relief against a personal representative/fiduciary regarding the following matters:
• To provide an inventory of assets or financial information
• To pay a claim that has been disallowed or approved
• To set aside exempt property and deliver it to the rightful heir or beneficiary
• To compel the fiduciary to pay the decedent’s funeral or burial expenses
• To remove the fiduciary and appoint a new personal representative
Filing a Litigation Matter with the Court
To bring a litigation matter against a fiduciary of a New York estate, the plaintiff must file a motion with one of NYC’s Surrogate’s Courts. Generally, the plaintiff will hire a New York probate and estate attorney to prepare the necessary paperwork, file the documents and represent them in court. The Court will listen to the testimony of the plaintiff and other interested witnesses and look at the evidence presented against the fiduciary in order to make a ruling on the matter.
A fiduciary can also be held personally liable for any financial losses caused by the acts of the fiduciary to the estate or the beneficiaries. This means that besides having the fiduciary removed, the fiduciary may have to reimburse the beneficiaries and heirs for such losses out of the fiduciary’s own pocket. For example, if you can prove that the executor of a New York estate has received a personal financial gain while acting as a fiduciary of the estate or has committed fraud or intentionally paid out claims that should not have paid, the Court would consider these valid reasons to remove the fiduciary and order the fiduciary to reimburse the estate and/or the beneficiaries. However, just not liking the fiduciary or not getting along with them is not enough of a reason to remove them.
If you are involved in a litigation matter against a fiduciary or you are a fiduciary who needs legal assistance in defending a claim against you, it is recommended that you hire a New York probate and estate attorney to represent you in the matter. If you wish to speak to a New York City estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.