Contested Estate Planning Documents
Wills | Trusts | Powers of Attorney
An estate planning document may be contested for a variety of reasons:
- There may be concerns that a beneficiary had undue influence over the deceased, or that the decedent made decisions or changes under duress from a potential heir
- There may be concerns about the mental capacity of the deceased at the time the Will was executed—the deceased may have been mentally unstable, suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s, or have been under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- There may be concerns about fraud or misrepresentation—The deceased may not have known what he or she was signing
- The document may not have been legally executed—It may not have been properly signed or witnessed
If you have concerns about the validity and the circumstances surrounding the execution of an estate planning document, you want an experienced lawyer to protect your rights.
At the Law Office of Bonnie Lawston, we bring more than 20 years of experience to people throughout Suffolk County and Nassau County on Long Island. We have extensive trial experience, and are never afraid to take your case to a judge and jury to get the outcome you want.
The executor, administrator or personal representative of an estate holds a position of trust and responsibility. Several of the duties imposed on a fiduciary is that she/he must administer the estate or trust solely in the best interest of the beneficiary. The fiduciary has the duty to full disclosure or material facts when dealing with his or her own account, the duty to keep and render clear and accurate records, take reasonable steps to take, keep control and preserve the asset. Fiduciaries are not allowed to use the assets for his or her personal gain or benefit personally from same.
The fiduciary can retain the services for professionals for advice. However, the fiduciary is not allowed to live in the property owned by the Estate or allow a family member or friend to stay and not pay rent, improper gifts, self-dealing, commingling of funds, losses created by the neglect of the fiduciary, these are just some of many many examples of improper behavior that may amount to a breach of duty.
One must prove to the Court that their fiduciary relationship exists, that there was a breach of that duty, that financial damage occurred that can be rectified by the Court and that action is necessary to move the Estate forward and compensate the Estate.
Some of the remedies include compensation, surcharging the fiduciary, removal of the fiduciary, removing the specific property, reducing the compensation of the fiduciary.
A fiduciary role with respect to the estate and the heirs—he or she must not engage in self-interest or conflicts of interest, but must always act in the best interests of the estate. If you believe the executor, administrator or personal representative has violated his or her duties as a fiduciary, you can take legal action to have that person removed and replaced with another fiduciary. Additionally, if you believe that a potential executor will cause a problem, you can seek to prevent his or her appointment.
Our Representation in Estate Contests
Though we will help you challenge the validity of a power of attorney and Trust, we focus our practice on Will contests. We’ll carefully gather and evaluate all evidence in your case, and will aggressively protect your interests in all hearings or proceedings.
Out-of-State Executor Attorney
We represent clients nationwide, if you are a fiduciary (executor, administrator, or trustee) an heir or beneficiary of a New York estate. If the decedent died in New York or has assets in New York State, we can help you. If you are chosen to represent the estate or if you are receiving an inheritance from a New York estate, contact our law firm today.
There are Two Types of New York Estates
- The Decedent resided in NY at the time of death and their domicile is New York at the time of death; or
- There are assets located in NY, at the time of death, and an ancillary proceeding is needed. The Decedent may have died elsewhere
More information about out-of-state probate help.