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Queens Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

Grounds for contesting a will

While a will may seem like the final say if your loved one in New York has passed away, the truth is that there can be many mistakes made during the writing and developing that can render the agreement invalid. If you believe that this has happened to you, we at Joseph A. Ledgwidge can represent you as you contest the will.

There are many grounds that can be claimed when fighting for your rights. According to the New York City Bar, a will may not be used if you can show that there was any sort of fraud involved during the creation of the document. This could mean that your loved one was lied to or in another way decieved. This is taken very seriouisly by the court, but you must also be able to prove that it happened.

Disinheriting your kids? Don't leave room for disputes

Last month, iconic comedian Jerry Lewis passed away at the age of 91. As is often the case when it comes to high-profile celebrities and entertainers, his death made national headlines and many people were saddened by his passing. However, his six children may feel something other than sadness, as it was recently revealed that Lewis explicitly excluded them from being beneficiaries of his estate.

As noted in reports on the exclusion, there was a clause in Lewis' will that he was intentionally leaving his six kids from his first marriage -- and their descendants -- no benefits. Instead, Lewis' widow will inherit everything, and their adopted daughter is next in line. There are a few things New Yorkers can learn from this situation, should they be considering a similar decision.

Working through a trust contest

On this blog, we have covered a number of topics related to will contests. However, it is important to point out that trust contests also arise and can create serious challenges. If you are dealing with a trust contest, you could be facing various issues. At Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C., our law firm is very familiar with the emotional strain that trust contests can generate and we know how vital it is for people who live in Jamaica and other areas of New York to do what they can to resolve these matters efficiently, if possible.

Like will contests, trust contests can take place over accusations of undue influence or that the trustor, the person who created the trust and has passed away, was mentally incapacitated when they signed their name. Whether you are a beneficiary who wishes to challenge a trust or you are worried about a beneficiary's decision to challenge, it is important to prepare yourself as much as possible.

Working through the will contest process properly

Unfortunately, there are times when contesting a will becomes necessary. We have covered different reasons for will contests on this blog, such as undue influence. At the same time, Joseph A. Ledwidge also understands that there may be instances where a will is contested on false grounds. Regardless of the nature of your circumstances, it is pivotal for you to work through the will contest process appropriately. For families in Jamaica and all other New York cities, the outcome of a will contest can have a major impact on beneficiaries and even relationships between loved ones, which underlines how pivotal it is to carefully approach this situation.

Whether you are a beneficiary or have been accused of failing to execute a will properly, you should be aware of the emotional repercussions that may come with these disagreements. If you are able to quell hard feelings and strong emotions in order to increase the chances of a favorable outcome, this can be highly beneficial. For many families, the consequences of a will dispute can generate repercussions that last for years to come. That said, we certainly understand that this is not a possibility in all cases.

Possible alternatives to disinheriting a child

If you live in New York and have an estate plan in place, a time may come when you need to modify it or remove one of your beneficiaries. Circumstances can change over time, and at some point, you may second-guess your decision to leave some of your estate to a child because of drug use, irresponsibility or another reason entirely. At Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C., we understand that your needs with regard to your will may change as the years pass, and we have helped many clients who wish to modify their estate plans to reflect these changing needs.

Disinheriting one of your own children is a major decision that can impact you and your family emotionally, as well as financially. Before making such a weighted decision, understand that there are some possible alternatives that may fit your needs. For example, The Balance suggests that, rather than disinherit your child entirely, you consider creating a trust with specific stipulations.

Named as an executor? There are online resources that can help

Have you recently found yourself in the position of executor after a loved one passed? If so, you may be wondering what exactly it is you are supposed to do. Many people find themselves in such a position. Often, they do not know what they need to do with respect to moving the decedent's will through probate. Typically, they are also dealing with the emotional turmoil that comes with losing a loved one.

Fortunately, some of the answers and tools you need may be only a mouse click away. While a probate attorney can help you with the legal aspects of settling a will in New York, the internet offers plenty of tools to help you keep things organized while administering an estate.

Naming minors as beneficiaries

When it comes to estate planning, many different types of considerations could arise. For example, if you have a children or grandchildren who are minors, you may want to ensure that they are taken care of after you pass away and there may be unique issues to go over when setting up your estate plan. At Joseph A. Ledwidge, we are of the importance of creating an estate plan that comprehensively covers all important matters, such as ensuring that minor children who are named beneficiaries have the resources they need.

Depending on the details of your circumstances, it could be wise to name a guardian who can help make sure that assets are distributed appropriately to minor children. For example, you may wish for some of the inheritance to become available once the child reaches a certain age, such as the age of 18 or 25. Moreover, you may want to factor in some of the child's current and future needs, such as the cost of receiving a college education.

How power of attorney differs from guardianship & conservatorship

There are several different titles that can make you a fiduciary, or someone who has decision-making power over a New York loved one, and they all indicate a legal or ethical relationship between you and the other person. Whether you need to pursue a power of attorney or a conservatorship or guardianship depends on your specific situation and the needs of your elder, so it is important to understand the key differences between them. Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C., has considerable knowledge of fiduciary duties and how they differ from another, and he has helped numerous clients navigate the complexities related to them.

If you wish to make financial decisions on your loved one or elder’s behalf, Caring.com reports that you may be able to do with a power of attorney for financial matters, or through obtaining a conservatorship or guardianship. The primary difference between them is that the elder names the person they wish to give power of attorney, while a court must name a conservator or guardian.

How much is the fee to file for probate?

If you are the executor of an estate, all sorts of questions may be on your mind. For example, you may have uncertainties related to your fiduciary duties or you could be unsure of how to approach the probate process. In Jamaica, and all across the state of New York, it is vital to make sure that you are aware of your responsibilities and prepare yourself for some of the responsibilities that lie ahead. For example, if you file for probate, you may be unsure of what the filing fee is.

According to the New York State Unified Court System, the probate filing fee is dependant upon an estate's size. A large estate, such as one with assets exceeding $500,000, will have a variable fee of $1,250 to file for probate. On the other hand, a more modest estate, such as an estate with under $10,000, the fee is only $45. Moreover, it is important to keep in mind that there are other fees associated with the probate process.

When you can contest a will

If someone wants to contest a will in New York, there must be one or more valid reasons for doing so. Simply disagreeing with the provisions of the will or believing that he or she should have inherited or inherited more is not sufficient. That person must be an “interested party” and must be able to prove that there are defects in the will or in the circumstances surrounding its creation.

Consumer Reports explains that an interested party is someone who is named in the will or someone who would inherit from the deceased person by virtue of state law had he or she died without having a will. Such people typically are family members, but anyone can qualify as an interested party, even if there is no relation to the decedent, if it can be proven that the person was named in a previous will.