Wills Litigation

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Elliot S. Schlissel is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.  Elliot and his attorneys have more than 100 years of combined legal experience handling all aspects of estate planning and estate litigation.  Please call to schedule a consultation at 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802 or send an email to schlissel.law@att.net.

Handling An Estate in a Nutshell

estate administration attorneyAll human beings that live will eventually die.  When a loved one passes, dealing with his or her estate is not a task most people look forward to.  However, most people will, during the course of their lifetime, be involved with estate issues concerning a loved one.

When the grief passes, the issues involved are who are the heirs of the estate, what are the assets, how are they distributed, and what creditors need to be paid, become issues in the decedent’s estate.  If the individual dies with a Will, the process to validate the Will by the Court is called PROBATE.  If an individual dies without a Will, the process of determining who will inherit from his or her estate is called ADMINISTRATION.  If there is a Will, the Will will appoint an executor.  It will be the executor’s responsibility to hire an estates lawyer and to take the appropriate legal action regarding the estate.  If there is no Will, an individual who is next of kin to the decedent can ask to be appointed the administrator of the decedent’s estate.

Legal Work in the Estate

If you hire an attorney, he or she will draft a probate petition or a petition for the administration of the estate.  The petition will thereafter be filed in the Surrogate’s Court in the County in which the decedent was a resident of at the time of his or her death.

After the probate petition or administration petition is filed, next of kin and potential beneficiaries will be notified of a court date.  On that court date, any individual seeking to challenge either the appointment of the administrator in an administration proceeding, or the executor in a Will in a probate proceeding can appear in Court and advise the judge that he or she seeks to challenge the estate proceeding.

Executor’s and Administrator’s Duties

When the Will is accepted for probate, the executor or administrator’s duties are to find the assets, liquidate them, and obtain them for the benefit of the beneficiaries.  The technical aspects of handling the funds is usually dealt with by the attorney retained by the administrator or executor of the estate.  Assets of an estate can involve houses, money, stocks and bonds, insurance policies, jewelry, artwork, clothing and other personal items.

Real Estate Issues in Estates

If an individual owns real property outside of New York State (houses, land and other structures on land), an ancillary probate proceeding will be required to be undertaken in the State where the real estate is located.  Surrogate’s Courts in the State of New York only have jurisdiction over real property that lies within New York State.

Accounting of Assets Before Distribution to Beneficiaries

After all of the assets are amassed by the estate, and all of the creditors are paid, the administrator or executor thereafter needs to provide a simple accounting to the beneficiaries showing assets, liabilities and the amount which will be available to be distributed to the beneficiaries.

Fiduciary Responsibility

It should be noted an executor is a fiduciary.  In the event he or she makes mistakes or mishandles funds, they are personally liable to the beneficiaries of the estate for these actions.  It is therefore almost always advisable for the executor or administrator to hire an experienced estates attorney to assist him or her with regard to all aspects of the decedent’s estate.estate litigation lawyer

Long Term Health Care Plans

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Elliot S. Schlissel has more than 35 years experience representing clients in all aspects of estate and long term care planning.  He and his associates are available for consultation at 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802 or by sending an email to schlissel.law@att.net.

Handwritten Wills

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Elliot S. Schlissel drafts wills and trusts and aids his clients in all aspects of estate planning.  Elliot handles estate litigation, including issues where a person has died without a will or with an improper will.  He and his associates have been handling these types of matters for nearly 40 years.  He can be reached for consultation at 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802 or by email at schlissel.law@att.net.

Executors and Estates

Attorney for ExecutorsThe individual named as the executor in a Will is entrusted with the assets of the individual who drafted the Will after the individual dies. The executor has responsibilities with regard to administrating the estate, accounting for its assets, paying taxes, distributing the assets of the estate, and dealing with a variety of other issues. Executors responsibilities have not changed in recent years. However, the responsibilities have been made more complicated.

In the past an executor would go to the decedent’s home, look for documents concerning assets, try to ascertain whether there was a safety deposit box, and by and large was usually able to locate documents that enabled him or her to determine what the assets of the estate were. This is no longer the case today. Many individuals maintain all of their financial documents online. An executor would usually not know the password or user names which would enable him or her to be able to get into these accounts. Obtaining access to a decedent’s digital information has become a major problem facing executors.

Easing Burdens and Responsibilities of Executors

The best way for an executor to ease his or her burdens is to hire a law firm which has a team of attorneys, accountants, paralegals, and other individuals who can help him or her carry out the responsibilities of an executor.

The following are a list of some of an executor’s responsibilities:

  • Probate the Will: The executor needs to find the Will, hire an attorney, and see to it that the Will is probated.
  • Collect assets: The executor must identify, collect, value and manage and safeguard all of the estate’s assets during the period of time the probate proceedings are making their way through the courts. This can include bank accounts, stocks, bonds, items in safety deposit boxes, household and personal effects, as well as out of state property, out of country property, digital assets and other items such as the decedent’s interests in other estates, trusts or litigation pending in the courts.
  • Filing tax returns: The executor must prepare and file all necessary estate tax returns.
  • Pay the debts and expenses of the estate: The executor must determine who the creditors of the estate are and see to it they are paid.
  • Distribution at the end of the estate: The executor must see to it the assets are appropriately distributed pursuant to the terms of the Will.

Conclusion

Executors have numerous responsibilities which should be taken seriously. These responsibilities in the digital age have become more complicated to carry out.New York Estate Planning Attorney

Decedent’s Sister Fails to Set Aside Will

probate attorney in New YorkRoosevelt, the sister of MacGuian, brought a proceeding in the Surrogate’s Court of New York County before Surrogate Rita Mella challenging a Will that MacGuian had executed in 2011. She claimed the Will, which was being submitted by the executor Eng, the decedent’s long time girlfriend, should not be accepted for probate. Roosevelt claimed the Will was not properly executed. In addition, she claimed MacGuian lacked testamentary capacity, there was undue influence and fraud involved in the preparation and execution of this Will.

2011 Will

The 2011 Will designated Eng as its executor. In addition, Eng was named as a beneficiary of all tangible assets including the decedent’s cooperative apartment, and one half of the balance of his estate which totaled more than $8,000,000. The other half was left to be divided among five charities.

Roosevelt claimed in her application to set aside the Will, that it was a significant departure from the prior Wills of MacGuian. The prior Wills named Roosevelt or her children as partial beneficiaries.

Surrogate Mella found the 2011 and the prior Wills presented a series of testamentary plans in which MacGuian provided for those individuals he had a relationship with at that time. Surrogate Mella dismissed Roosevelt’s claim. Her decision stated Roosevelt failed to raise a triable issue of fact with regard to issues involving testamentary capacity and her other objections. The witnesses to the Will provided documentation that MacGuian was of sound mind at the time the Will was executed. In addition, MacGuian’s doctors all provided documentation of MacGuian’s testamentary capacity at the time the Will was executed.estate planning lawyer

What is Intestacy?

To watch today’s video blog, please click on the link below:

https://youtu.be/KkunAMO6eA0

Elliot S. Schlissel drafts wills and trusts and aids his clients in all aspects of estate planning.  Elliot handles estate litigation, including issues where a person has died without a will.  He and his associates have more than 100 years of combined experience representing clients.  He can be reached for consultation at 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802 or by email at schlissel.law@att.net.

Why Should You Have A Will?

To watch today’s video blog, please click on the link below:

https://youtu.be/SsAzKSway8I

Elliot S. Schlissel is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.  Elliot and his associates have more than 100 years of combined legal experience representing clients with regard to all aspects of wills, trusts, and estate matters.

Executors and Estates

The individual named as the executor in a Will is entrusted with the assets of the individual who drafted the Will after the individual dies. The executor has responsibilities with regard to administrating the estate, accounting for its assets, paying taxes, distributing the assets of the estate, and dealing with a variety of other issues. Executors responsibilities have not changed in recent years. However, the responsibilities have become more complicated.

New Problems for Executors

In the past an executor would go to the decedent’s home, look for documents concerning assets, try to ascertain whether there was a safety deposit box, and by and large was usually able to locate documents that enabled him or her to determine what the assets of the estate were. This is no longer the case today. Many individuals maintain all of their financial documents online. An executor will usually not know the password or user names which would enable him or her to be able to get into these accounts. Obtaining access to a decedent’s digital information has become a major problem facing executors.

Easing Burdens and Responsibilities of Executors

The best way for an executor to ease his or her burdens is to hire a law firm which has a team of attorneys, accountants, paralegals, and other individuals who can help him or her carry out the responsibilities of an executor.

The following are a list of some of an executor’s responsibilities:

  • Probate the Will. The executor needs to find the Will, hire an attorney, and see to it that the Will is probated.
  • Collect assets. The executor must identify, collect, value and manage and safeguard all of the estate’s assets during the period of time the probate proceedings are making their way through the courts. This can include bank accounts, stocks, bonds, items in safety deposit boxes, household and personal effects, as well as out of state property, out of country property, digital assets and other items such as the decedent’s interests in other estates, trusts or litigation pending in the courts.
  • Filing tax returns. The executor must prepare and file all necessary estate tax returns.
  • Pay the debts and expenses of the estate. The executor must determine who the creditors of the estate are and see to it they are paid.
  • Distribution at the end of the estate. The executor must see to it the assets are appropriately distributed pursuant to the terms of the Will.

Conclusion

Executors have numerous responsibilities which should be taken seriously. These responsibilities in the digital age have become more complicated to carry out.attorney for the executor of an estate

Dying Without a Will – Who Inherits?

When an individual who has not written a will dies, it is said he or she died intestate. Intestate succession in New York State deals with the distribution of assets as follows:

 

  • If the individual who dies did not have a spouse at the time of his or her death, and he or she had children, the children would inherit all of the assets.
  • If the individual who died had a spouse and no children, the spouse would inherit everything.
  • If the individual who died had a spouse and children, the spouse would inherit the first $50,000 of the decedent’s assets, and 50% of all other assets of the decedent.
  • If the individual who died had parents who survived him or her and no spouse and no children, the parents would inherit all of this individual’s assets.
  •   If the individual who died had no parents who survived him or her, no spouse and no children, but had brothers and/or sisters, the brothers and/or sisters would receive all of the assets.
  •   If the situation gets beyond this point you should hire an estates lawyer to go through a more detailed inheritance chart.

Assets Which Pass Outside of an Individual’s Estate

Many assets do not pass under an intestate estate if the individual dies without a will, or pursuant to the terms of a will even if an individual who dies has a will. These types of assets are referred to as testamentary substitutes, which do not pass either by intestate succession or pursuant to the terms of a will. The following is a list of some testamentary substitutes which would pass outside of an individual’s estate:

  • The proceeds of life insurance contracts
  • Funds maintained in a pension, IRA, 401(k), 403(b) or other retirement accounts which has an internal beneficiary designation related to the account
  • Assets maintained in a living trust
  • Bank accounts and/or securities held in transfer on death accounts
  • Property you own pursuant to a joint tenancy or a tenancy by the entirety (tenancy by the entirety applies to property owned by a husband and wife)

Dealing With Estate Issues

Most individuals do not understand estate succession laws and the complexities involved in the transferring of assets in estates. In the event a family friend, loved one, spouse, child or other individual who was close to you passes and you feel you are entitled to an inheritance from this individual, the best way to see to it your inheritance rights are protected, is to hire an experienced estates lawyer. The estate lawyer’s job will be to see to it all of your rights to inherit are protected.wills and trusts lawyer