Rights of Beneficiaries

The Importance of Hiring an Attorney
if You Are a Beneficiary or Fiduciary of an Estate

Why do you need to hire an attorney if you are a beneficiary or fiduciary (executor, administrator or trustee)?

Hiring an attorney is important to protect your interests in the estate and to maximize the inheritance by proper administration of an estate. The Law Office of Bonnie Lawston, P.C., focuses solely on probate, estate and trust administration and related matters. We pride ourselves on our level of communication with the client. We provide information during each and every step, advise the client of potential problems before they happen and how to avoid them so it does not result in costly mistakes that sometimes cannot be corrected. Our staff is well trained to work with clients who do not live in New York, but have connections to a New York estate such as a decedent who died in New York or had real property in New York. Our law firm can assist you so that you never need to come to New York, if you do not want to, and there is no added cost for that assistance.

As a Fiduciary of the Estate

You need to hire an attorney to advise you as to the laws of New York State and to ensure that you comply with the laws when you administer the estate. There are procedures that you must follow when the will is probated or administration (“no will”) is filed with the court. You must also comply with laws when the assets are collected, liabilities satisfied and when distribution is ready. Many times, we have people come to us who have tried to administer the estate on their own, but have encountered major problems. After the funds are distributed, often a beneficiary will complain about something, and the fiduciary has no estate funds left to correct the problem and defend themselves in court. In such instances, the fiduciary is facing possible personal liability as well a paying for the legal costs to defend and correct the complaint. With the proper advice and representation, you will never be in that position with our office. We take all the necessary steps to prevent exposure to such liability.

As a Beneficiary of the Estate

You need representation of counsel to ensure that your rights are protected. Please note that when the fiduciary hires an attorney and the attorney is paid by the estate, the attorney does not represent you, nor does that attorney represent the estate. The attorney the fiduciary has hired represents him or her. So please do not think that the attorney is “for the estate.” They are not. The estate’s attorney is essentially your adversary. Yes, you can get information from the estate’s attorney, but they will not give you advice or tell you if the fiduciary has done something wrong. Without your own attorney to examine the fiduciary’s conduct and how the estate was administered, you may never know something was wrong. If you do discover something was done incorrectly, it may be too late to complain or do anything about it.

Before mistakes are made or go unaddressed, hire an attorney who will watch out for your interests. We have represented both sides of estate matters, and estates that are both small and large, simple and complex. We are familiar with attempts to take advantage of situations and how to avoid, stop and detect such behavior, if it has occurred. Let us maximize your interests. Contact our office today.

Let the “LAW” in LAWSTON work for you.