≡ Menu

Emergency Issues in Estates – Use of Temporary Restraining Orders (TROs) to Get Something Done Fast

A temporary restraining order (TRO) is used in an emergency situation when a party believes that they will suffer an immediate harm unless the court issues the order stopping the action of someone else immediately prior to holding a formal hearing and allowing the other party a chance to respond. A TRO is used as a stop measure until a permanent injunction may be issued by the court at a formal hearing on the matter.

With regard to estate matters, a TRO may used when it is necessary to stop a fiduciary (executor, administrator or trustee), beneficiary, heir or third party from disposing, transferring or selling an estate asset. An asset could be cash, real estate, jewelry, artwork, intellectual property such as a music royalty, copyright or trademark owned by the decedent. A TRO could be used by the estate of a celebrity to stop someone from exploiting the name or likeness of the deceased celebrity. If the party does not cease their actions, they may be subject to criminal charges and personally liable for any losses that the estate or beneficiaries may suffer.

Example:

Say you are an executor and a beneficiary of your father’s estate. You see your brother, who is also an heir and beneficiary, remove several paintings and other artwork from your father’s house. When you confront your brother, he says that he needs to sell them right away to pay his mortgage payment because he is three months behind. While you are concerned about your brother’s living situation and want to help, there are other beneficiaries that have an interest in estate paintings. As the fiduciary, you are also concerned that you would be accused of breaching a fiduciary duty if you let your brother sell the paintings and keep the money.

You realize that you must act quickly to stop your brother so you hire a New York City estate litigation attorney to obtain a TRO on the estate’s behalf. If the judge is convinced that you and the other beneficiaries will suffer irreparable harm, the judge will issue the TRO and prevent your brother from selling the paintings. At the hearing that follows the TRO, the judge issues a permanent injunction, and your brother is ordered to return the paintings to the estate. You offer to loan your brother the money to pay his mortgage against a portion of his inheritance, and he agrees to pay you back after the estate assets are distributed and the estate is closed.

There are numerous other situations where it is worth giving a TRO a shot. For example, where a creditor is looking to stop beneficiaries of a New York estate from spending money in dispute.

Estate matters concerning the obtaining of a TRO need to be done fast, and there is no time to “do your homework”. Most people will hire an NYC estate attorney to assist them with obtaining a TRO and a permanent injunction. An estate attorney can prepare the TRO, represent the estate or party seeking the TRO at the hearing and assist with other estate litigation matters such as will and trust contests, removal of fiduciary matters, challenges of estate accountings and routine probate and estate matters.

If you wish to speak to a New York City estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at 718-509-9774.