A New York Guardianship proceeding under Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law (“MHL”) typically requires that the Court find the alleged incapacitated person (“AIP”) to be incapacitated. The focus of the Court is on the functional abilities of the AIP and the manner in which the AIP can handle activities of daily living without assistance. These activities include the ability to feed oneself or handle necessary personal hygiene.

The Guardianship Court will also focus upon whether a person has advanced directives or alternative means by which to accommodate a disability. For example, as part of the creation of an Estate Plan, a person may have put into place a Power of Attorney, a Living Will, a Health Care Proxy or a Living Trust. These papers provide a means by which a person can have their personal needs and property management attended to after they no longer have the capacity to do so by themselves. There may also be situations where caretakers such as family members or nursing professionals may be in place to care for and monitor a person’s ongoing needs despite an apparent disability. Continue reading

An estate fiduciary such as an Executor and Administrator has many different obligations. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed many of these duties. For example, the fiduciary must locate, protect and collect estate assets. This function includes such tasks as closing a decedent’s bank accounts or brokerage accounts and depositing the funds into a newly established estate bank account.

Also, the fiduciary must pay a decedent’s debts and obligations. These items may include rent, mortgage payments, utility bills, income taxes and credit card payments. Another source of expenses are those incurred during the course of Estate Administration or Estate Settlement such as estate taxes, brokers fees that may be incurred if a decedent’s real estate needs to be sold and the costs of maintaining and protecting estate assets. Continue reading

When a person dies without a Last Will he is deemed to have died intestate. New York Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (“SCPA”) Section 103(28) defines “Intestate” as “A person who dies without leaving a valid will.”

The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published many posts regarding the administration of estates where there is no Will. In these cases the decedent’s distributees (next of kin) have the right to file a petition with the Surrogate’s Court and ask to be appointed as the Estate Administrator. Continue reading

It is very common that a decedent is a tenant in a New York City Rent Stabilized or Rent Controlled apartment. The rules regarding such rent regulated housing are very complex and concern matters such as the amount of rent that can be charged and other landlord-tenant issues.

One of the aspects of rent regulated housing is that certain family members and other persons who had been living together with the decedent in a family relationship, are entitled to succession rights to the apartment. In other words, these survivors have the right to take over and become the new tenant under the lease in the place and stead of the decedent. Continue reading

New York Estate Lawyers know that it is important for individuals to create plans that reflect their intentions. An estate plan can include a Last Will, Living Will, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney and Living Trust.

It is important that when creating these documents, an individual give serious consideration to the provisions that are made in each instrument. For example, when preparing a Power of Attorney, a person should be careful to designate an agent that is trustworthy and that the agent be given powers that are necessary and restricted as the situation or circumstance may require. It may not always be the best course just to fill out the standard Power of Attorney form with all of the powers provided and sign it without regard to the possible consequences of such act. Continue reading

Executors and Administrators in New York have many different duties and fiduciary obligations.  The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed the importance of a fiduciary acting properly and protecting estate assets.

A source of controversy in estate administration often involves the ownership and management of real estate. Typically, a decedent’s home and other real estate holdings constitute the most valuable asset in an estate. Sometimes, a relative of the decedent or friend may have been living with the decedent for many years prior to the decedent’s death. Once a fiduciary is appointed to handle estate matters, the executor or administrator will need to take control over the real estate. This may result in the need to evict the persons who had been living with the decedent. The fiduciary must be able to protect the real estate and control it since there is a fiduciary obligation to safeguard estate property. As can be imagined, the long-time occupant of the property may oppose or interfere with the fiduciary’s activities and claim that they have a right to continue to occupy or even own the home. In these cases the fiduciary needs to commence Surrogate’s Court proceedings or Landlord-Tenant eviction proceedings to obtain control over the real estate. In some cases the Court may issue an injunction and stop the occupant from interfering with the executor or administrator or otherwise causing harm to the property. Continue reading

Article 81 of the New York Mental Hygiene Law contains the provisions regarding the appointment of a Guardian. As discussed in earlier posts in the New York Probate Lawyer Blog, when a person is found to be incapacitated the Court can appoint a Guardian for personal needs and also for property management.

A Guardianship case is commenced by the petitioner who files a proposed Order to Show Cause and a Verified Petition with the Court. Upon receipt of these papers, the Court will review the allegations to determine whether it will sign the Order. Continue reading

A Supplemental Needs Trust (“SNT”) is a trust that is typically created to provide a protected fund for persons who receive benefits from governmental sources. Ordinarily, if an individual is the recipient of benefits from Medicaid or social security disability or other governmental programs, the receipt of private funds by such individual would disqualify them from obtaining future benefits. The private monies would either need to be paid to the government as repayment for past benefits or spent down before government subsidies could resume. The SNT allows a person to have the best of both worlds. Funds can be held in a SNT while the government benefits continue to be paid.

A SNT can be created and utilized in many different situations.  For example, in estate planning, where a parent has a child or potential beneficiary that is a recipient of benefits such as Medicaid, a SNT can be established as a provision in a Last Will or Living Trust to provide a source of extra financial benefit for such person without risking any loss of benefits.  New York Estates, Powers and Trusts Law Section 7-1.12 entitled “Supplemental needs trusts established for persons with severe and chronic or persistent disabilities” provides the requirements for the creation of such trusts. Continue reading

There are many types of proceedings that occur relating to a decedent’s estate. One of the most common matters involves the probate of a Last Will and Testament. New York estate lawyers are familiar with the manner in which a Will is presented to the Surrogate’s Court. In the typical case, the original of the Will is filed with the Court along with a death certificate, a petition and other papers. Having a Will admitted to probate simply means that the Will is validated by the Court and its provisions regarding asset distribution and other directions must be followed. At the time probate occurs the Court appoints an estate fiduciary who is typically the Executor nominated in the Will. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has posted many articles explaining the probate of an estate.

In some situations the probate process turns into a Will Contest. When the situation concerns a contested Will, the typical occurrence is that one or more of the decedent’s next of kin (“distributees”) disputes the validity of the Will. This dispute can be based upon the grounds of undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity or improper execution of the Will. Continue reading

The estate of a decedent can be affected by many different pre-death and post death events. For example, the decedent may be involved in a lawsuit during life that is still ongoing at the time of death. It will then be up to the estate Executor or Administrator to take over the lawsuit to its conclusion. Depending upon the nature of the case, the lawsuit may result either in a liability to the estate or an asset if the estate recovers money.

New York Probate Attorneys are familiar with many other situations that can impact estate settlement. One such situation involves the marital status of the decedent at the time of death. Under the New York estate laws, a spouse of the decedent has certain rights. If a married person dies without a Last Will, Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (“EPTL”) Section 4-1.1 provides that the surviving spouse would inherit a share of the decedent’s estate. Also, it is not uncommon that a spouse is named as a primary beneficiary in a decedent’s Last Will and Testament. However, even where a spouse is not named in a Will, EPTL Section 5-1.1-A, entitled “Right of election by surviving spouse”, provides the survivor with the right to receive the greater of $50,000.00 or one-third (1/3) of a decedent’s net estate. Continue reading

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