A NY estate attorney is involved in determining what happens with a person’s property after they die in NY. In places like NY, where estate planning can make an impact on who gets your property after your death, estate attorneys get involved way before a person dies, sometimes decades before. A NY estate attorney can perform a variety of functions, depending on the stage of the estate process, whom the attorney represents, what legal documents are involved and what the relationship between the person who died and their family and friends is.
Estate Planning. A NY estate attorney writes up the documents that determine what happens to a person’s property after their death. An estate planning attorney’s function is to set up what is referred to an estate planning package, which may include a will, a trust, a power of attorney, what we refer to in NY as a health care proxy, and a living will. They would talk to the client and see what they want to happen to their estate after their death, and will then draft the appropriate documents and make sure that the person making the plan signs the estate planning documents correctly, all the formalities required for the documents are followed, and all of the documents that need to be filed are filed in the appropriate government agency.
Probate of an Estate. A NY estate attorney represents the people involved in the probate process, which is a court proceeding to determine if a deceased person’s will is valid. Most probate proceedings are uncontested, meaning that the estate attorney would simply submit an application to admit the will to probate and notify everyone involved, the judge would review the petition and the will gets admitted to probate, meaning that the executor nominated by the will gets appointed to be the executor. The estate attorney would then make sure that the executor performs their job correctly.
Administration of an Estate. If an estate attorney was not involved until a person died, and the person died without a will, the court proceeding where it gets decided what happens to their assets after their death is called “estate administration.” The NY estate attorney would help the relatives of the person who died become the administrator of the estate. He would fill out the appropriate documents and submit the documents to court. After the relative gets appointed as the estate administrator, the estate attorney would make sure that the administrator carries out their duties in accordance with the law.
Contesting a Will. When someone is left out of a will, a NY estate attorney would help that person contest a will. He would try to prove to the court that the person who died either did not have the mental capacity to make a will, was unduly influenced into making a will, or the will was not made correctly. A different estate attorney would represent the person who filed the will with the court – defending the will and trying to prove that the will has not defects that would render it invalid.
Contested Accounting. When a beneficiary of an estate suspects that the executor is mismanaging assets of the estate or stole something from the estate, even before the death of the decedent, an estate attorney would help the beneficiary file a petition for an accounting. A different NY estate attorney, representing the executor of the estate, will help the executor prepare an accounting of the estate, which is a statement of the assets that are in the estate and the expenses that the estate incurred. The estate attorney for the beneficiaries can then object to the accounting and ask the court to make the executor return money that they allegedly took from the estate improperly.
Albert Goodwin, Esq., is a NY estate, guardianship, wills, trust, Medicaid and probate attorney with over a decade of experience. He can be reached at (212) 233-1233 or (718) 509-9774.