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 hollywoodreporter.com 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

Fiduciaries who are appointed by the Surrogate’s Courts in New York have many responsibilities.  The fiduciary can be an Executor or an Administrator.  It is very common for a decedent’s estate to have amongst its assets real estate.  In fact, in many situations a decedent’s home may be the most valuable asset of an estate.

Single and multi-family homes exist throughout the New York Metropolitan area and over the years the value of these properties have increased dramatically. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has provided numerous posts that discuss issues relating to the eviction of persons who occupy estate real property. To re-cap, when a person dies the house in which he/she lived may continue to be occupied by someone who is not entitled to receive the entire property either pursuant to a Last Will or through intestate administration. The occupant could be a third-party tenant or perhaps even a relative of the decedent. Continue reading

The probate of Wills in New York can be very complicated.  The Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (“EPTL”) Section 3-2.1 entitled “Execution and attestation of Wills; formal requirements” provides the basic requirements for the proper execution of a Will.  The New York Probate Lawyer Blog contains many articles discussing the basic Will execution requirements which include items such that a Will generally must be in writing, signed by the testator at the end and there needs to be at least two attesting witnesses.

Estate Lawyers in New York City sometimes prepare Wills that contain provisions known as “No Contest” clauses or “In Terrorem” clauses. Essentially, these provisions that can appear in a Last Will or a Living Trust provide that a beneficiary will forfeit his bequest or interest in the event he unsuccessfully challenges the validity of the document. EPTL Section 3-3.5 entitled “Conditions qualifying disposition; conditions against contest; limitations thereon” sets forth the statutory provisions regarding these types of clauses. Continue reading

The settlement of a decedent’s estate can be viewed as encompassing three stages. Estate Lawyers in New York City are familiar with this process. The first step involves the appointment of the estate representative. When a decedent leaves a Last Will and Testament the Will is filed with the Court and submitted for probate. Once the Will is admitted to probate, the Court appoints an Executor. In situations where the decedent dies intestate (without a Will), a proceeding for Letters of Administration is presented to the Court and the Court then appoints an estate Administrator.

After a fiduciary is appointed, the second stage of the estate settlement process involves the collection of estate assets and the payment debts, taxes and other obligations. As discussed in earlier posts in the New York Probate Lawyer Blog, both of the above stages can be filled with complex issues such as Will Contests and Surrogate’s Court Litigation regarding the assets and obligations of a decedent. Continue reading

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