What is undue influence?

One of the common reasons why people contest a will in New York is for undue influence. According to the American Bar Association,  undue influence is psychological abuse and why there is no one standard definition, it is typically considered any acts of manipulation that forces a person to take or not take a certain action.

This type of manipulation may often involve excessive persuasion. It usually means one person is taking away the free will of the other person. Finally, the results of the undue influence usually result in an unfair situation. This is especially true when it comes to wills since this manipulation could end up cutting others out of the will who rightfully have a claim.

It is common for undue influence to be proven through looking at some key factors. To begin with, the victim has to be vulnerable in some way and the person doing the manipulation has some authority or power over the victim. The results should be unfair and the actions and tactics used need to have been manipulative. This may vary from court to court because the definition of undue influence is not always clearly spelled out under the law.

Undue influence is more common with older individuals, but it can happen to anyone. It can be subtle or can be done through threats and intimidation. It usually happens in private, but the results become apparent once the results are revealed. This information is for educational use only and is not intended as legal advice.

Proper estate planning helps avoid family disputes

From time to time, a celebrity with a vast estate passes away without a will or proper plan to distribute their assets. This thrusts their family into a potential minefield. Without making their wishes known in a will, they leave it up to the state to seize their assets and distribute them to survivors according to probate guidelines.

Even those who support the probate process must admit that it is far less personal and considerate than a will, which lays out who specifically receives certain property. Even if the deceased person told family members they would receive this or that from the estate, the probate process does not consider this legally biding and will not honor it.

If you have any estate at all, and do not wish to place unnecessary strain on your loved ones when you pass away, it is essential to create a valid will. While estate planning can become complex as you build and refine your plan, a strong will establishes a firm foundation to keep your rights secure and your wishes respected.

Your family and loved ones deserve clarity

Very few things have the power to destroy family relationships like conflicts over the wishes of a loved one who has passed away. This is especially true as we grow older, because it is entirely possible for a person to indicate one set of preferences to a loved one, and indicate another set of preferences to someone else. For many of us, these small mistakes are forgotten as soon as we make them, but our loved ones and beneficiaries may remember them clearly.

In fact, one of the best ways that you can prepare your loved ones for the way in which you wish to distribute your estate is to go over the contents of the will with them while you are still living and have mental clarity.

By holding a reading of your will, you can answer any questions that your loved ones have, or explain any perceived imbalances in your bequests. If, for instance, you have three children and choose to give one child a significantly larger bequest than the other children, it may be wise to explain why you chose to do this. If you do not clarify this choice, they will fill in the blanks on their own, and often resent you and each other in the process.

If, after creating your will, you change some aspect of it, it is wise to make sure that you communicate these changes to the affected parties. While the law does not require you to communicate this clearly, your beneficiaries will ultimately value the clarity instead of wondering what you truly intended once it is too late.

Act now for peace of mind

Putting off estate planning is an excellent way to miss out on it entirely. None of us has any guarantee of even another whole day, let alone years or months. Now is the time to protect your rights and wishes for your estate with a will that clearly lays out your wishes.

Should an estate executor proceed quickly?

After the death of a New York resident, it is incumbent upon the executor of the estate to oversee the assets of the deceased until the estate goes through probate and the assets are ready to be distributed to the heirs. Some executors may want to pass along the assets as quickly as possible. However, there are important reasons not to rush matters when it comes to overseeing an estate.

As Bankrate points out, as an executor, you have legal responsibilities to carry out. You might overlook important legal steps if you rush the process. At best, you could delay the probate process a little. However, at worst you could be held personally liable if the missteps are severe enough. If anything should happen to the assets of the estate or if there is mismanagement of the estate, it could give the heirs cause to challenge the executor’s fitness in court.

Instead of worrying about finishing the asset distribution quickly, an executor should prepare for a possible lengthy tenure if the probate process should drag out. Fortunately, keeping the records of the estate organized can help prevent unnecessary delays. Additionally, an executor should consider hiring a qualified probate attorney to provide counsel on legal matters and to prevent probate steps from being overlooked.

It is tempting for an executor to want to pay out the assets to heirs as quickly as possible, particularly if there is disharmony among the heirs. Some executors have to deal with arguments among heirs, which can slow down probate. Sometimes an attorney can successfully mediate the matter, while in other instances a judge may need to step in. In any case, the executor should keep the assets secure until the matter is resolved.

Because legal matters concerning probate can vary widely, this article should not be taken as legal advice. It is only intended to educate New York residents on the subject of probate.

Guardianship: What you need to know

Whether you are responsible for someone who is developmentally disabled, incapacitated or mentally unstable, or a child who has lost his or her parents, you may file for guardianship of that person. When you file for guardianship , you are asking the court to give you permission to make critical legal, medical, financial and personal decisions on behalf of someone who is unable to make those decisions for themselves. You must be approved by the court to be named a guardian of another person. You must also be a citizen of the United States, over 18 years of age and have a clean criminal record. Ultimately, it is up to the judge’s discretion as to whether you would be a good guardian for the person in question.

The judge may give you guardianship over the person, guardianship over the person’s estate or guardianship over both. In addition to making decisions for the person you are representing, you may be responsible for handling a person’s estate and property. As an estate guardian, you may need to make decisions regarding investments, savings, property and other financial issues. The judge presiding over the case will determine what type of help the ward, or the person needing help, requires, as well as whether you would be a trustworthy person to perform these duties on behalf of the ward.

It is important to keep in mind that the judge will make his or her decision based on the best interests of the ward.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice.

A quick look at the probate process

Losing a friend or loved one can be emotional. It is during this hard time that people are forced to make crucial decisions regarding a person’s estate. In some cases, the estate will need to go through the probate process , which helps to settle matters, such as ensuring the will is valid and that the estate assets and property gets to the beneficiaries named in the will. If an estate administrator or executor of the will is named within the document, that person is responsible for seeing the will through the probate process.

The first step is to file the last will and testament along with a copy of the death certificate and an application for probate. These documents should be submitted to the Surrogate’s Court located within the county where the deceased lived. From there the administrator must located all property and assets in the estate and determine the value. Any remaining taxes and debts owed by the deceased are then paid out of the estate’s assets. Throughout the probate process, the administrator must protect the property from vandalism and make sure nothing is taken from the estate. Once everything is paid, the remaining property and assets are then distributed to the rightful heirs.

Not all estates are required to go through probate. Estate’s that value less than $30,000 may avoid the procedures, as well as estates that are put into a revocable living trust. Once property is put into the trust, the trustee may distribute that property out to the beneficiaries without waiting for probate.

What should I consider when choosing an executor?

As you are planning your estate in New York, one big decision you will have to make is who will be your executor. This is a very important choice that can have a far-reaching impact. The executor will ensure that your wishes are carried out after you are no longer around to see to them. Choosing the right executor can make things go more smoothly for your heirs.

According to Kiplinger, there are some important considerations to keep in mind as you choose your executor . These things will help ensure that you choose someone who will handle the estate properly and in the way you wanted.

One of the top things to think about is if the person you choose has a good relationship with your heirs. The person does not have to be friends with them or even know them, but it is important that there are no bad feelings there. If the person and your heirs have issues, it could lead to arguments and trouble during the process.

You should make sure the person you choose is responsible and will be able to carry out your wishes. It is also good to make sure the person is financially stable so there is no risk that he or she may not be able to get bonded or insured, which is often required by the court.  

It is also a good idea to ensure the person will be around after you die. So, choosing someone who is younger and in good health is a good idea. This information is for education and is not legal advice.