An estate litigation lawyer represents people who suspect that they are getting short-changed on their rightful inheritance. We have clients who have been grossly mistreated and lied to by the executor, who is usually a relative and a person they are supposed to trust. We also have clients with the opposite problem – they are executors who are being unfairly accused by the beneficiaries of the estate. An estate litigation lawyer’s job is to enforce his clients’ rights and do everything in his power to win their case. Here are situations that we typically handle:
Someone Was Left Out of the Will
When an estate litigation lawyer’s client is cut out of the will, the lawyer investigates whether the decedent was incapacitated, coerced or defrauded. We may also look into accusations of forgery or improper execution. We can even find that a later will is discovered. We strive to get the evidence and argue the legal theory to get the best possible settlement or verdict for our clients in will contests. If the estate litigation lawyer finds evidence of those things, then he takes the case to trial, to try to prove to the judge or the jury that the will is invalid and should be set aside. We can also defend a will that a beneficiary is attempting to contest – we can represent either side of the will contest, whether the proponent of the will or the objectant to the will. Read more about what estate litigation lawyers do in will contests.
Accusations of Stealing from the Estate
Executors don’t always steal from estates, but it happens often enough, and when it does, an estate litigation lawyer is there to try to reverse the damage to the estate. Executors have access to the funds, and the temptation is too much to resist for some people. We’ve seen stealing by administrators, executors, trustees, and even probate attorneys. An estate litigation lawyer helps estate beneficiaries bring an accounting proceeding to get a formal report on how the estate is being handled and try to get property back into the estate if it is missing. In the most egregious cases, such as where self-dealing and stealing from the estate can be shown, an estate litigation lawyer helps beneficiaries seek fiduciary removal. We can represent either side of the case – the beneficiary who is alleging stealing and the executor who is saying that everything done in the estate was proper. Read more about how an estate litigation lawyer helps his clients in cases involving accusations of stealing of estate assets.
An estate litigation Lawyer Can Help Resolve Disagreements in Estates
Disagreements sometimes arise in estates. Some executors have a feeling of absolute power and act unreasonably towards the beneficiaries of estates. On the flip sides, some beneficiaries mount unreasonable demands on an executor. Some estate disagreements can be resolved without court intervention. This includes disagreements over sell vs. keep, valuation, who gets what, and items with intangible value. We strive to obtain the best possible distribution for our clients. More…
Unclear Language in a Will
Unclear instructions sometimes occur when wills, trusts, and other disposition documents are not carefully drafted. Whether the ambiguities work out to your advantage or disadvantage, an estate litigation lawyer will make every effort to have the documents interpreted in your favor. More…
Disagreements on the Amount of the Spousal Share
If the decedent died without a will (intestate), a spouse usually has the right to fifty thousand dollars and one-half of the residue of the estate. Even if there is a will disinheriting the spouse, a spouse can usually still override the will by claiming the “New York elective share.” The elective share consists of the greater of fifty thousand dollars or one-third of the estate if the couple has children, or up to one-half of the estate if the couple has no children. An estate litigation lawyer helps their clients fight for their correct amount of spousal share. More…
An estate litigation Lawyer Can Help in Kinship Disputes
When a relationship to the deceased is in question, a kinship proceeding arises and you need the help of an experienced estate litigation lawyer to prove your kinship and possibly exclude the kinship of others. In kinship proceedings, we may litigate over situations involving the need to look back multiple generations or unravel vague circumstances. More…
An estate litigation lawyer not only represents beneficiaries of the estate but also represents executors when one of the following situations occur:
- Relatives of the decedent are trying to overturn the will
- Beneficiaries are claiming that the executor has done something wrong
- A person with an interest in the estate is trying to cancel a gift the decedent gave to the executor
- An heir is trying to cancel a beneficiary designation
- A beneficiary is challenging the executor’s qualifications
- A spouse of the decedent is presenting inflated spousal elective share claims
- Beneficiary or business partner is claiming a share of the business
An estate litigation lawyer can protect the executor against unfair allegations.
Defend Estates Against Will Challenges
A resident of New York has the right to cut people out of their will. An estate litigation lawyer can help an executor clear estates of allegations and proceeding to close the estate and distribute assets to their rightful beneficiaries, sometimes with small settlements or no settlements at all. More…
An Estate Litigation Lawyer Can Defend Against Allegations of Executor Wrongdoing
Executors can be unjustly accused of taking funds or property of the estate and are accused of overspending on estate expenses. In such situations, an estate litigation lawyer will work with the executors to remedy the situation and put any misunderstandings behind them. More…
Defend Pre-Death Gifts
People are within their right to make gifts during their lifetime. Those gifts are often challenged after the person who made the gift dies. Claimants make arguments that the person “did not really intend to make the gift” and that they were taken advantage of. An estate litigation lawyer will provide a vigorous defense to disprove the claimants’ arguments, and if need be, demonstrating that the giver made the gift of their own free will and that whatever issues the claimant has with the gift are not enough to change the fact that the gift was made. An estate litigation attorney often has the capacity to successfully defend most challenges to pre-death transfers of assets. More…
Defend Beneficiary Designations
Beneficiary designations can be challenged by the people who were not named as a beneficiary or who have received a lesser share than they expected. They will claim that the person who named beneficiaries to their assets was tricked into signing the form or they did not know what they were signing. It is up to the people making those claims to prove their case. Estate litigation lawyers do their best to dispute those claims, and to show the Court that the person who died made the beneficiary designation on their own free will, with full understanding, and without any technical defects. More…
An Estate Litigation Lawyer Can Defend Executor Qualifications
Beneficiaries of estates sometimes have a personal problem with the Executor. Estate litigation lawyers often provide a simple solution to this potential problem by posting a bond, which is like insurance on the executor’s potential misconduct. A bond sometimes works to put the beneficiaries at ease. If a bond cannot be posted or if the beneficiaries want the Executor out no matter what, it is up to the beneficiaries to prove why the executor is not qualified. An estate litigation lawyer will do his absolute best to show that the beneficiaries’ claim to have the Executor disqualified are without basis. More…
Defend Against Inflated Spousal Elective Share Claims
A disinherited spouse is entitled to a claim of up to one-third of the decedent’s estate. A spouse is also entitled to a third of any property the decedent owned up to a year prior to their death, recapturing the property even if the decedent transferred the property to someone else before they died. A spouse can attempt to overvalue the entire estate in the hopes of receiving a higher elective share. Sometimes, a spouse attempts to include the executor’s own property in the elective share valuation. If a spouse disagrees with the executor over the amount of the elective share, it is up to the spouse to prove to the court how the executor is wrong. Estate litigation lawyers vigorously defend executors against a spouse’s attempt to overvalue an elective share. More…
An Estate Litigation Lawyer Can Defend the Executor’s Share in a Business
Executors are often in business together with the decedent, having worked in the same company sometimes for decades, has significantly contributed to the company, having a share in the company or receiving compensation from the business. Non-executors who are not involved in the business tend to challenge the executor’s share, ignoring the years of hard work that the executor put into the business. An estate litigation attorney will work hard to show the court that the Executor is entitled to the share of the business and to the income and control of the business. More…
Defend Claims Against the Estate
After a person dies, all kinds of people and entities make claims against their estate. The most common claimants are creditors, alleged business partners, life partners, ex-spouses, the IRS, and Medicaid. If often turns out that the alleged claimants cannot provide any sort of proof such as documents or testimony. Even if they do have a claim, it is often overstated. An estate litigation lawyer will fight hard to make sure that if a claim is even paid, the claimants only get a reasonable settlement amount.
Closing New York City Estates
Once an estate challenge is successfully resolved, the next step is to close out and settle the estate. An estate litigation lawyer will help executors and beneficiaries close and settle New York estates in in a clean and efficient way. Our knowledge of the court system allows us to close and settle matters in New York Surrogate’s Court without unneeded expenses and delays.
Albert Goodwin is an experienced New York estate litigation lawyer who has successfully represented clients all over New York City, including New York County (Manhattan), Kings County (Brooklyn), Bronx County, Queens County, Richmond County (Staten Island), Nassau County in Long Island, and Westchester County (the White Plains court).
As an estate litigation lawyer, I take pride in my record of success. Whether you are a beneficiary and you feel that you are not getting a fair share of the estate or you are an executor and you feel that you are being wrongly accused by the beneficiaries, you can let me let me handle the negotiations and proceedings, for a peace of mind that comes with knowing that your case is being handled by an experienced New York City estate litigation lawyer. You can give me a call at (212) 233-1233 or (718) 509-9774 and we can talk about your situation.