Beneficiary Rights

The Rights of Estate Beneficiaries

After the death of a loved one, you hope that everyone will honor the wishes of the deceased and ensure that the estate is distributed in accordance with his or her wishes. Unfortunately, people get greedy, and judgment often fails. When your relatives or others will not abide by the terms of a will, litigation may become necessary to protect your rights. You want an experienced and successful estate litigation attorney to represent you in court.

Sometimes the terms of the will are not clear, and you may need a construction proceeding to determine what was meant by those terms. We can assist you with that.

Sometimes the fiduciary or family member will not probate the will or leave the decedent’s home, and you need assistance. We can help.

At the Law Office of Bonnie Lawston, P.C.,we have more than two decades of experience in the courtroom, handling estate litigation for clients throughout Suffolk County and Nassau County on Long Island. We have successfully represented clients in a broad range of estate matters, including disputes involving beneficiary rights. Whenever possible, we seek to negotiate mutually beneficial solutions. We will, however, aggressively protect your interests in court, if necessary.

Our Protection of Beneficiaries in Estate Litigation

We handle a broad range of legal actions involving the rights of estate beneficiaries, including cases involving:

  • The spousal right of election—We’ll make certain that, as a spouse, you receive as much of an estate as the law guarantees you by filing the necessary papers and meeting the deadline prescribed by New York State law. We will also make sure that you receive all the credits and other distributions that you are entitled to, which you do not always receive unless specifically requested.
  • Kinship hearings—We represent clients in proceedings to establish kinship or blood relationship for purposes of claiming a beneficiary right to an estate inheritance.
  • Lost Wills—Attorney Lawston can help you admit a lost will to probate, so that your loved one’s wishes are honored.
  • Fraudulent transfers—We’ll help you recover wrongfully taken property or that was distributed contrary to the provisions of the will or contrary to New York State intestacy law. We can do this through an administration process or as a trust matter.
  • The maximization and protection of inheritance rights—We aggressively fight to help you get all that you are entitled to receive as the beneficiary of an estate.
  • Construction proceedings – Often, the terms of the will are not clear and can be interpreted differently to mean different things. If that is the case, it may be necessary to have a hearing, or you may need to depose the person who drafted the will to determine the intentions of the deceased, and to clarify what was truly meant by the terms of the document.

Do You Have an Interest in a New York Estate?


All of the above matters apply if you reside out-of-state, but have an interest in a New York estate. Whether you are a fiduciary of a New York estate matter or an heir of a New York estate matter, but live in Florida, Georgia, New Hampshire, California, North Carolina, Virginia, Hawaii or some other state, we can assist you.