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Are you looking for reputable and experienced New York inheritance lawyers? You came to the correct place. The death of a loved one and the settling of that person’s estate is an event that can cause heated disagreements within a family.

If you are involved in an estate litigation matter or you are a fiduciary who needs legal assistance to defend against any estate litigation claim such as a contested accounting, it is important that you contact our New York inheritance lawyers to protect your interests.

The best New York inheritance lawyers near you

In many cases, an inheritance dispute involves an heir or beneficiary unhappy with the part of the estate that they have received. This can lead to different estate disputes:

  • Allegations over how the executor has managed the estate;
  • A challenge over how the will was executed;
  • Accusations of improprieties on how the will was executed.

If you find yourself involved in an inheritance dispute it is key to be represented by experienced New York inheritance lawyers from the office of Ortiz & Ortiz. These estate disputes and will contests can be really complex, involving tricky family dynamics.

Our lawyer, Norma E. Ortiz will review the facts of the disagreement and work closely with you to reach the best possible resolution considering the issues involved in the dispute.

Note: You might be interested in learning the difference between an executor and an administrator of the estate and also the difference between a trustee and an executor to fully understand the role of an executor in a New York estate

Parties to an inheritance dispute

Only those who are interested parties have the legal right to pursue a dispute in the New York Surrogate’s Court. Regardless of whether there are a lot more people that may have reasons to be upset by the provisions of a will.

heir disputes in new york

Interested parties are usually:

  • Heirs: Typically close family members such as children, the spouse, grandchildren, parents and sibling;.
  • Beneficiaries: Anyone who is named in a will.

Additionally, interested parties also include claimants, fiduciaries, creditors or anyone who would have inherited under a previous or later will.

In a scenario where your mother passed away and left you a much smaller bequest than she left your brother, you could initiate estate litigation because you are an interested party. 

On the other hand, you won’t have standing to object to the will in the following case: You were a friend of the decedent simply hoping to receive a testamentary gift.

Common types of estate litigation matters

When the conflict or dispute cannot be resolved between the interested parties, the matter may result in an estate litigation lawsuit. The following are common matters that our office handles.

inheritances in new york

Will contests

There are different grounds upon which a will contest may be based under New York law. Lawyers and courts frequently deal with cases based on inheritance disputes from unhappy beneficiaries and heirs.

Improper execution of a will

This refers to a will not signed or witnessed correctly. If an interested party is upset by the amount of property received under a will, they could challenge it based on how it was executed. 

The following legal statements must be followed under NY EPTL § 3-2.1 :

  • A will must be signed at the end by the testator (the person making the will);
  • In case the testator is physically unable to sign the will the law allows another person to help the testator sign;
  • The testator must be mentally sound when another person aids in the signing of the will.
  • The will must be witnessed by two people (at least).
  • During the execution ceremony, the testator must declare that the document signed is indeed, his or her will.

If the court considers the will to be valid, the Surrogate’s court judge will admit it to probate. Otherwise, in case the court believes there were problems associated with the execution it may decline to admit it to probate. 

New York intestacy law

This may be the result sought by the person who initiated the inheritance dispute. In the second scenario the decedent’s estate will be distributed according to New York’s laws of intestacy and they will be entitled to a significant share of the estate.

Note: To ensure the will is not invalidated based on improper execution you can request that the witnesses execute affidavits recounting the circumstances surrounding the signing and execution of the will. To learn more under a professional consultation, contact our New York wills lawyer.

Undue influence in wills 

This is one of the most common grounds for claiming that a will should be invalid. As the name implies, undue influence refers to the fact that there was undue influence at the time the testator wrote the will. 

In other words, it is when another person selfishly manipulates the testator into executing a will that the testator wouldn’t have otherwise executed. We have covered the subject in detail on our website. You will be able to read from the motivations to the steps to demonstrate undue influence in wills or defend against it.

Lack of testamentary capacity 

According to the New York law NY EPTL § 3-1.1 the testator must have testamentary capacity. This refers to the ability that a person has to understand and execute a will. The testator must be at least 18 years old and must be of sound mind and memory. A common strategy by an unhappy beneficiary is to argue the lack of testamentary capacity to try to invalidate a will. We have written an article on the web that addresses the subject in detail.

steps to contesting a will

In our blog about the steps to contesting a will you can find other elements that may be used in will contests. 

Trust contest

This contest is usually made to challenge that a provision in the trust was vague.

Breach of fiduciary duty

This refers to challenging the actions of the fiduciary to remove them from their duties. Estate litigation in these cases could be due to financial mismanagement of estate assets, losses of the estate or beneficiaries, commitment of illegal acts such as embezzlement of estate funds and others.

Claims against the estate

These are claims made by business associates of the decedent regarding a business asset owned by the decedent. They usually occur during interstate proceedings. They can also be claims from a creditor whose claim was denied by the trustee and seeking to obtain payment for the claim.

Surviving spousal litigation

This refers to circumstances where the decedent intentionally omitted the spouse from the will. Under New York law, a decedent cannot completely disinherit a spouse to whom they were legally married at the time of their death. The validity of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements must be checked also.

Fiduciary litigation and removal

last will and testament inheritance

A fiduciary is an individual with the authority to act in the best interest of another person. In the case of trusts and wills fiduciaries include:

  • The trustee or executor;
  • Additionally, professionals are hired to help perform services for the estate such as accountants, attorneys, bankers or business advisors. These are also considered fiduciaries. 

When a trustee mismanages equity assets, these assets can suffer a significant financial impact. That is, the amount of available property that can be distributed to beneficiaries could be reduced. Therefore, it may result in requests that a fiduciary is removed for cause and pays restitution to the beneficiaries or estate.

As you can see, estate litigation can arise over a dispute on how fiduciaries have administered the estate and the consequences can be severe. Make sure you contact our estate planning attorney in New York and let us know your case in detail.

Inheritance issues in New York

On our website we have published topics that can answer some of your initial questions related to inheritances and estate litigation matters. 

We are constantly adding blogs that may be of your interest so we invite you to navigate our site but please remember that the information provided here is only for general information purposes. In no case does it constitute an attorney-client relationship. 

In order to serve you we must know your specific situation in a professional and 100% confidential consultation with our lawyers for inheritance disputes. In this way, we can help you better by studying your situation thoroughly.

Hiring experienced New York city inheritance lawyers

Property litigation is an emotional situation for all parties involved. Situations like these bring out the worst in people by creating hostilities and animosities.

Regardless of the basis of the property dispute, negotiating a resolution is a complicated process that requires:

  • Detailed evidence review;
  • The application of the corresponding law.

Our inheritance dispute attorney serves all five boroughs of New York. With 30 years of experience behind her, Ortiz & Ortiz can help you to help make the process as painless as possible under the circumstances.

Consult with our NY probate litigation attorney today to make sure your interests are properly represented