Estate litigation in New York can involve a countless number of issues. The situation that is most commonly recognized is the Contested Will or Will Contest. This type of trust and estate litigation usually gets newspaper headlines such as in the recent case of the Estate of Brooke Astor.
The typical Will litigation occurs in the New York State Surrogate's Court and can involve issues concerning a decedent's testamentary capacity or the proper execution of a Last Will or claims of undue influence that resulted in the disinheritance of close family members.
Another common form of estate litigation relates to the Accounting that an Estate Executor or Administrator must provide to estate beneficiaries when the estate is ready to be distributed. Objections to the Fiduciary Accounting can be filed by the estate beneficiaries concerning an alleged breach of fiduciary duty or the mishandling of assets.
Trust and Estate law firms in New York should be consulted by persons and organizations who have an interest in an estate to obtain advice as to whether appropriate estate litigation should be commenced to protect their rights. In a recent article by Lisa Brown on March 23, 2012 appearing in St. Louis Today, it was reported that Wells Fargo Bank was being sued for breach of fiduciary duty with regard to the loss of millions of dollars in Trust assets.
The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has previously talked about other areas where litigated Court proceedings may be needed. These areas include the following:
(a) A proceeding to compel the production of a Will which is provided by Surrogate's Court Procedure Act (SCPA) 1401.
(b) A proceeding to Prove a Lost or Destroyed Will which is provided by SCPA 1407.
(c) Proceedings to determine distributees with regard to kinship proceedings or cousin cases, SCPA 2225.
(d) A proceeding to compel a fiduciary to file an Accounting which is provided by SCPA 2205.
As a New York estate lawyer I have represented clients in these and other Estate litigation matters. Many times an estate might be involved in Court litigation that results from events that were harmful to the decedent prior to death. A common type of case is a Wrongful Death action where monetary damages are sought due to some occurrence such as an automobile accident that caused the decedent's death. The Daily News in an article by Erin Durkin dated March 16, 2012 reported that the family of a deceased New York City Judge was suing the nursing home where the Judge died claiming that the home was not licensed and had kept the Judge imprisoned there and failed to provide him with proper care.
It is important in every estate settlement to closely analyze whether estate litigation is needed to protect beneficiary and family member interests from fiduciary duty breaches or other problems that may arise.
As a New York City probate lawyer, I have helped many clients over the past 30 years throughout the Bronx and Suffolk Counties resolve issues relating to estate administration and settlement in New York Probate and Administration proceedings. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.