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Did you know that administering a New York estate can be a very complex matter. Estates can vary in nature. There can be an Administration Estate when a person dies intestate (without a Last Will). There can be a Probate Estate when a person dies with a Will that is admitted to probate in the Surrogate’s Court. In a probate case the Court appoints an Executor. In an Administration case the Court appoints an Administrator.

The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed many issues concerning estate settlement. Each estate can face unique problems that the estate fiduciary needs to anticipate and address. In some matters the decedent may have incurred a lot of debt or other monetary obligations that must be paid out of estate funds. In other situations the estate may be responsible to pay for various taxes related to the decedent. These taxes can be State or Federal income taxes that are due to income prior to the decedent’s death. There may also be income taxes incurred by the estate. Estate taxes may need to be provided for. Both New York State and the Federal government impose estate taxes. In all these matters, the estate fiduciary must be very cautious and make certain that estate liabilities are paid. The fiduciary can be personally liable if these obligations are not properly addressed. Continue reading

One of the most essential aspects of every trust and estate is the fiduciary who is in charge of its affairs. The fiduciary may be an Executor, Administrator or Trustee depending upon the type of situation. However, in all cases the fiduciary has many powers and obligations.

Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) Section 11-1.1 entitled “Fiduciaries’ powers” provides a list of the powers that fiduciaries can exercise. For example, an Executor may need to: (i) take control over property; (ii) open a bank account; (iii) sell property; (iv) defend a lawsuit; (v) or commence a legal proceeding to protect the interests of a Trust or Estate. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed many situations regarding fiduciaries’ powers. Continue reading

It is important to know your rights if you are disinherited. New York inheritance laws are rather complex. There are many occasions where a close family member learns that they have not been provided for in a decedent’s Last Will. These situations often result in Estate Litigation in the form of a Will Contest.

A recent case involving the death of French rock star Johnny Hallyday is a typical example of children being left out of a Will. In an article by Henry Samuel in a February 2018 post of The Telegraph, it was reported that Mr. Hallyday left his entire fortune to his fourth wife. Two of his older children were left nothing in a Will which was redone shortly before Mr. Hallyday died. Continue reading

Did you know that an estate is typically comprised of many different types of assets? These assets may include bank and financial accounts, retirement funds, life insurance and real estate. It is not uncommon for real estate to constitute the most valuable item in an estate.

Real estate in a general sense can include single or multi-family residential property, commercial property, condominiums and co-operative apartments. When there are disputes regarding real estate in which a decedent had an interest, the question often arises as to whether the Surrogates Court is the appropriate forum to litigate such issues.

For example, the New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published numerous posts discussing the problems presented when third parties occupy estate property. Generally, when a person is improperly occupying real estate, in a typical landlord-tenant type of situation, the property owner will commence a proceeding in the New York City Civil Court landlord-tenant part (or similar Court outside of NYC), to evict the holdover or non-authorized occupant.

It is important to complete estate planning papers so that a person’s intentions and desires are clearly set forth. The list of documents to plan an estate can include a Last Will and a Living Trust. When an Estate Planning Lawyer prepares these papers it is important to provide the attorney with all family and asset information so that the documents that are prepared are complete and accurate.

For example, it is necessary to review all asset information. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published many articles discussing the different issues associated with various assets for planning purposes. If an individual owns joint assets or assets where there are designated beneficiaries, these items typically are not controlled by the terms of a Will. These types of assets pass directly to the joint owner or the named beneficiary. Continue reading

Did you know that a fiduciary in New York has certain duties and obligations. A fiduciary includes an Executor, Administrator and Trustee. These duties and obligations include the protection of estate assets and the payment of funds to the beneficiaries.

When a fiduciary fails to act properly, he may be found to have breached a fiduciary duty. There are many different circumstances that can result in a breach of duty. For example, if an Executor uses estate funds for his own benefit, such conduct is improper. Also, if an Administrator fails to pay an estate expense on time such as taxes and the estate is charged extra interest and penalties, this situation may be found to be a breach of duty. Continue reading

It is important to know that when a person dies intestate (without a Last Will), his estate is distributed to his closest next of kin. Additionally, these persons, known under the statute as distributees, have the right to be appointed as the Administrator of the estate.

Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) Section 1001 entitled “Order of priority for granting letters of administration”, sets forth the persons who have the right to be appointed. The list begins with the decedent’s surviving spouse, then his children, then grandchildren and continues with relatives of more distant connection. Continue reading

Guardianship cases in New York are controlled by Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law (MHL). When a person wants to commence a Guardianship proceeding, there are a number of papers that must be filed with the Court. The two essential papers are the Petition and the Order to Show Cause.

In the Petition, which is usually prepared with the assistance of a Guardianship Attorney, all of information regarding the Alleged Incapacitated Person (AIP) is provided. MHL Section 81.08 entitled “Petition”, lists the information that needs to be provided. These items include the name, address and age of the AIP and a description of the AIP’s ability to manage his activities of daily living. Also, the powers regarding property management and personal needs that are being sought should be specified. The AIP’s financial information should be provided, as well. Continue reading

The settlement of an estate in New York can be divided into three main categories. The first category or phase is the appointment of the fiduciary. When a decedent has a Last Will, then the Will needs to be filed with the Court and admitted to probate. Probate proceedings in the Surrogate’s Court can be contentious and involve Will Contests.   Once a Will is admitted to probate, an executor is appointed and the terms of the Will control the ultimate estate distributions.

When a decedent does not have a Will, then an Administration proceeding must be filed to have an Administrator appointed for the estate. The estate of a decedent who dies intestate (without a Will) is distributed to the decedent’s distributees (next of kin). The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has posted many articles concerning Probate and Administration proceedings. Continue reading

Last Will and Testament is an important part of a person’s estate plan. There are a number of papers that a person should consider when starting to prepare a plan. In addition to a Will, these papers can include a Living Will, a Health Care Proxy, a Living Trust and a Durable Power of Attorney.

The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published many articles discussing the items of information that must be considered when preparing these documents. Simply put, a person needs to understand the nature and extent of his assets. This should include a review of the ownership title, such as joint or individually owned assets, as well as the value of the assets. Continue reading

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