New York Estate Planning Lawyers need to discuss many different issues with their clients. Among the most important considerations is the selection of Executors and Trustees. An Executor is nominated in a Last Will and Testament. Typically, the Will also provides the name of successor Executors in the event the primary nominee cannot or will not serve. A Trustee is also nominated to act in a Will provision regarding a testamentary trust. This is a trust that is created in the Will. There are also trustees that are nominated in trusts that are created outside of a Will in so-called inter vivos trusts. A Living Trust or Grantor Trust is a typical example.

When choosing a fiduciary such as an Executor or Trustee the creator should give the selection some basic considerations.  These include some understanding as to whether the person nominated will accept the appointment.  Some individuals do not want to accept the responsibility of acting as an Executor or Trustee or may not have the time to devote to this task.  When selecting a fiduciary, the creator may want to first ask the prospective nominee if they would accept the appointment. Continue reading

Real estate holdings in an estate may constitute the most valuable estate asset. A decedent may have owned a residence such as a single or multi-family house, a cooperative apartment or a condominium unit. In view of the increase in value these assets have experienced, the disposition of such interests is very important to estate settlement and the estate beneficiaries.

New York City Estate Lawyers encounter many estate planning matters and estate administration situations where real estate must be dealt with. When planning an estate with real estate, a testator needs to consider the best or most likely disposition for the real estate upon death. In many cases, the best course to follow may be to have the real estate sold and the net proceeds distributed to the estate beneficiaries. When there are numerous beneficiaries, it can be very cumbersome for a number of different people to own the property. This type of situation often leads to disputes among beneficiaries since some may want to sell the property while others may want to keep the property for rental purposes or to live in. Continue reading

Executors and Administrators in New York have many fiduciary duties with respect to settling an estate. Most estate fiduciaries are close family members or friends of a decedent. Typically, a person will nominate a person that they know and trust to be the Executor of their estate. Since the estate fiduciary rarely has experience in administering an estate, the Estate Lawyer is heavily relied upon to provide guidance and to implement the necessary procedures to protect the interests of the estate and the estate beneficiaries.

One of the primary duties to be performed by the fiduciary is to find and collect estate assets. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published earlier posts talking about this area of estate settlement. If an executor or administrator does not fulfill his obligations to safeguard assets, he may be found to have breached a fiduciary duty. Continue reading

An estate plan in New York is very important to establish the disposition of assets. Documents that may be included in estate and advanced planning include a Last Will, Living Will, Health Care Proxy, Durable Power of Attorney and Living Trust. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed these papers in many earlier articles.

Recently, there have been a number of celebrity cases where advanced planning and estate issues have made headlines. One such case involves Sumner Redstone who was the head of Viacom which owns CBS. Mr. Redstone’s capacity to handle his affairs was called into question and his former companion began a lawsuit to enforce the provisions of his healthcare directive after she was prevented from executing her authority under the document. In an article in on April 27, 2016 by Ashley Cullins entitled “Judge Rules Sumner Redstone Trial Will Be Public”, it was reported that a trial regarding the companion’s lawsuit is set to begin later this month. As reported by Ms. Cullins, the trial judge has ruled that the trial will be open to the public. The Court is also set to decide whether Mr. Redstone must give testimony. Continue reading

A Fiduciary in New York has many duties and obligations. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has posted many articles discussing these matters. Executors, Administrators and Trustees must not breach their fiduciary duties. There are many different obligations. Generally, a fiduciary is held to a very high standard by the Courts. The reason for this view is that a fiduciary is entrusted with a tremendous amount of authority and discretion and is required to act in the best interest of the persons that are to be benefited by the fiduciary’s actions.

A fiduciary’s powers are very extensive. For example, in the case of an estate fiduciary such as an Executor or Administrator, Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) Section 11-1.1 entitled “Fiduciaries’ Powers”, sets forth many areas in which the executor or administrator may act. Among the many powers enumerated in the statute is the power to invest estate property, to sell or mortgage property, to settle claims and to pay proper and reasonable estate expenses. In addition, a person’s Last Will or Trust can give a fiduciary powers that are not provided by the statute. Such documents can also limit or direct a fiduciary with respect to the exercise of certain powers. Continue reading

The administration of a New York Estate requires the resolution of many different types of issues. During his lifetime a decedent may have been involved in activities that resulted in claims or debts that are unresolved at the time of death. For example, a person may have incurred credit card obligations or other credit related debt that is unpaid. In other situations, the decedent may have been an owner of a business or have had business transactions for which he was monetarily responsible.

Also after a person dies the Executor or Administrator has a fiduciary obligation to determine the decedent’s financial obligations and satisfy creditors. Of course, the fiduciary also has a duty to determine to what extent these debt obligations are valid and enforceable. Continue reading

Estate Planning in New York involves the preparation of a number of different papers. Included among these documents is a Last Will and Testament. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has posted many articles concerning the importance of preparing a Last Will as well as the need for the Will to clearly express a person’s intentions.

When a person takes the time and effort to prepare a Will it is essential that the document clearly provide the benefits that the creator wants to put into effect upon death. A New York Estate attorney typically works closely with his clients to fully understand the assets and estate plan that is to be incorporated into the Will document. Continue reading

There are many cases in the Surrogate’s Court which involve a Public Administrator. Generally, a Public Administrator is a public official who is given the authority to administer estates where no other person or entity is properly available to act as fiduciary. Article 11 of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) sets forth provisions regarding such administrators in New York City. For example, SCPA Section 1112 is entitled “Authority to act” and provides that the Public Administrator in a county, such as Kings County or Queens County, can “take charge of the personal property of the intestate” when a decedent dies intestate and there is no known person eligible to receive letters of administration. Continue reading

Beneficiaries of an Estate in New York may be determined in a number of different ways.  The most recognizable method of beneficiary designation is the naming of an individual or institution to receive a benefit in a Last Will.  There are many different types of dispositions that can be made in a Will such as leaving a specific item or property to a beneficiary or by just setting forth that the beneficiary is to receive a certain share or percentage of an estate.

Another method of beneficiary selection is where a decedent does not prepare a Last Will. When a person dies intestate his estate is distributed to his distributees (i.e. heirs at law). The persons who qualify as distributees are determined by the New York Estate laws. Estate Lawyers in New York are familiar with Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) Section 4-1.1 which provides the priority of the individuals entitled to share in the intestate estate. EPTL 4-1.1 is entitled “Descent and distribution of a decedent’s estate”. This statute has been discussed in many prior articles in the New York Probate Lawyer Blog. Continue reading

Fiduciaries in New York are appointed to administer estates and trusts.  With regard to an estate, the Surrogate’s Court appoints either an Executor or Administrator depending upon whether the decedent had a Last Will.  When a Last Will exists, the document is offered for probate and the Court appoints an Executor.  In situations where a decedent dies intestate (without a Will) the Court appoints an estate Administrator.

With regard to Trusts, there are many different types of trusts. There can be inter vivos trusts that are generally created during a person’s lifetime. There are also testamentary trusts that are created pursuant to the terms or provisions in a Last Will. The Trustee supervises the administration of the trust according to the trust terms. Continue reading

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