An inheritance dispute lawyer can help you with issues regarding your inheritance so you can receive what is rightly yours. Most people think that challenging your inheritance in an inheritance dispute only involves objecting to a will. However, there are many types of situations that we have come across that have given rise to inheritance disputes:
- A will leaving nothing or a small amount to one or more of the children
- A will leaving nothing or a small amount to the spouse
- An executor or administrator who uses estate funds for his personal expenses or any other type of misconduct
- Disagreements with executor or administrator regarding administration of estate assets
- Siblings who lie in their petitions to claim administration, when the decedent’s children are still alive
- Theft of decedent’s assets prior or immediately after death and before issuance of letters testamentary or letters of administration
- All other Surrogate’s Court matters
When a will leaves nothing to children, inheritance disputes through will contests usually ensue. The child will contest the will on the basis of fraud, forgery, or undue influence upon the testator in order to invalidate the will. Once the will is declared not valid, the decedent’s estate is distributed in accordance with New York laws on intestacy, and the child will be able to inherit as the decedent’s heir.
Spousal right of election
When the will leaves a small amount to the spouse, the spouse does not even need to contest the will. All the spouse needs to do is to exercise the right of election within 6 months from the date the executor was appointed, but in no case later than 2 years after the decedent’s death. As long as the spouse did not waive this right of election in a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement, the spouse right can easily request for the rightful share by filing a petition with the court. The spouse is entitled to $50,000 or 1/3 of the net estate, whichever is greater. An estates attorney will be able to assist a spouse in computing for the rightful share, because the decedent’s net estate includes testamentary substitutes, such as Totten trust accounts, joint bank accounts, gifts made within one year prior to decedent’s death, retirement accounts, to name a few.
Removal of an executor
When you feel that the executor or administrator is guilty of misconduct that dissipates your inheritance share, you can file a petition to remove, suspend or limit the powers of the executor. Consult with an inheritance dispute lawyer immediately so you can waste no time in filing your petition.
Petitions based on misrepresentations
It often happens that a sibling or parent will misrepresent in their petition that the decedent died with no children so that they can inherit instead. You can urgently file a temporary restraining order to restrain the administrator from exercising the powers under the letters, a petition to remove the administrator based on misrepresentation, and a petition to appoint the child as administrator instead.
Theft of decedent’s assets
Inheritance disputes can also arise when the decedent’s assets have been taken either prior to the decedent’s death or immediately after the decedent’s death, but before the appointment of an executor or administrator. Usually, the people who take the decedent’s property are the other children of the decedent.
For example, a child who has the decedent’s debit card or a financial power of attorney can continue using the debit card or power of attorney for his own personal expenses without informing the bank of the decedent’s death. Other times, transfers can be made by the decedent prior to his death to third parties or other children due to fraudulent misrepresentation.
A discovery and turnover proceeding can help you find these assets and request for their turnover to the estate. Similarly, fraudulent transfers made by decedents to third parties or other family members can be nullified based on meritorious grounds. An inheritance dispute lawyer can help you file your lawsuit to protect your inheritance.
All other Surrogate’s Court matters
In New York, matters before the Surrogate’s Court usually involve probate, estates, and other inheritance disputes. When you feel the need to protect your inheritance, you need to consult with an inheritance dispute lawyer to see what your rights and remedies are. Should you need assistance, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. We have offices in New York, NY, Brooklyn, NY and Queens, NY. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.