After a Loved One Passes

Losing a loved one can be an extremely difficult experience. In some situations after your loved one passes, their next of kin is called upon to supervise the estate of the deceased. After the funeral takes place, the individual charged with handling the estate of the deceased has to first find the assets and gather them together within the confines of the estate. Thereafter he or she must pay creditors and authenticate who the beneficiaries to the estate are. If the decedent wrote a will, the process begins by probating the will.

The Probate Process

The first step in the probate process is to locate the original Will and file the Will with the Surrogate’s Court located in the county where the decedent resided before his or her death. In addition to filing the Will, a probate petition must accompany the Will. If the court accepts the probate petition, the case will be placed on the court’s calendar. The beneficiaries and next of kin will need to receive notice of this upcoming court date. On the return date of the probate petition, if there are no challenges to the will, the court will render a decision authorizing the executor named in the Will to be appointed to fulfill the terms and functions of the Will. The executor will determine the assets of the estate and gather them together. These assets may involve selling real estate, liquidating bank accounts, stocks, bonds and mutual funds, and various other types of assets. If there are expenses related to the decedent’s final illness, these expenses must be paid. Tax returns for the year in which the decedent died must be filed and if taxes are due, they must be paid. If the estate is a large estate, there may be estate taxes due and owing. At the end of the probate process the executor must prepare an accounting of the assets received, the payments which have been made to creditors, and lay out the scheme for the payment of the balance of the funds of the estate to the beneficiaries named in the Will.

No Will Causes Administration Proceedings

Administration proceedings are similar to probate proceedings, however they are a bit more complicated. Since no one has been named by the decedent to handle his or her estate, the next of kin and/or other family members may approach the court and seek to be named the administrator of the estate. This sometimes causes disputes among those individuals who seek to control and administrate the decedent’s estate.

In both probate and administration proceedings, family members who don’t feel they received their fair share of the estate sometimes come forward and challenge the estate proceeding.

Dealing with Estate Issues

I would not recommend an executor or administrator try to handle either the probate of a Will or the administration of an estate without the guidance and legal representation by an experienced estates attorney. If the administrator or executor makes a mistake, he or she can be personally liable for financial damages. The cost of hiring an attorney to represent the estate are paid by the assets in the estate, not by the funds belonging to the administrator or executor.new york estates attorney

Wills Litigation

Please click on the link below to watch today’s video blog:

https://youtu.be/3Aqjn2mJVQA

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.

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

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

Man Seeks to Recover Property From Decedent’s Home

Please click on the link below to watch today’s video blog:

https://youtu.be/IbfgPc_ORB8

Elliot S. Schlissel is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.  Elliot and his associates have been representing clients for more than 35 years in all aspects of estate litigation, estate planning, drafting wills and trusts, and guardianship proceedings.  He can be reached for consultation at 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802 or by email to schlissel.law@att.net.

Ex-Father In Law Wins in Will Dispute

In a case called the Matter of the Estate of Robyn Lewis, a woman died at the age of 43. Her death was related to her being an alcoholic. The decedent, Robyn Lewis, had a will prepared in 1996. The will named her husband at the time, James A. Simmons, the sole and exclusive beneficiary. Under the terms of the will, if her husband pre-deceased her, his inheritance rights were to be transferred to his father James R. Simmons (her father-in-law).

Ms. Lewis and her husband were residing in Texas in 2007. She brought her divorce proceeding in that State. Lewis was an alcoholic and was advised by her physicians if she didn’t cease drinking, she could die within six months. Lewis died three years later in 2010, due to complications related to her alcohol addiction. At the time of her death she had one valuable asset. This asset was property located in Clayton, New York. This property had been in her family for several generations. While she was married to Simmons, they had purchased the property for $200,000 from her mother and uncle.

Fight Over the Clayton, New York Property

After Lewis’ death, there was litigation concerning who was the appropriate person to inherit the property in Clayton, New York. Ms. Lewis’ father-in-law’s attorneys argued under New York State law the entry of a judgment of divorce revokes a decedent’s bequest to a former spouse. Unfortunately, in this case, if Simmons is unable to inherit from his deceased ex-wife, the alternate beneficiary was Simmons’ father, the decedent’s father-in-law.

The possibility the property would be inherited by the ex-husband’s father leads one to believe the ex-husband would ultimately inherit the property as a beneficiary of his father.

estate planning on long islandPeter Schwerzmann, the Surrogate of Jefferson County, held the father-in-law was entitled to inherit the property. The Appellate Division of the Fourth Department (an appeals court), affirmed the decision. The case may be taken to the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, for review.

Executor’s Duties

elder law attorneysThe duties of an executor involve dealing with issues concerning a dead individual’s property. The executor pays the decedent’s debts and taxes. He or she sees to it that the assets are given to the individuals named in the will.

Fiduciary

An executor is a fiduciary. The executor has a duty to act with a high degree of good faith and honesty concerning the handling of an estate.

Duties of an Executor

  • Locating the decedent’s assets and managing them until they are distributed to the individuals who inherit under the will.
  • Probating the will. In New York State wills must be probated in the Surrogate’s Court. The probate process involves the court accepting the will as being valid.
  • The handling of day to day issues involving the deceased assets. This involves notifying banks and government agencies, such as Social Security, Medicare and the Department of Veterans Affairs of the decedent’s death. It also may involve paying debts and liquidating assets such as the sale of real estate or stocks and bonds.

Attorney for the Executor

The executor hires a lawyer to deal with the legal issues involved in probating the will and distributing assets. The lawyer representing the estate is actually the attorney for the executor and not the attorney representing the beneficiaries. If the beneficiaries desire they can retain their own lawyers to represent them and protect their interests in the estate proceeding. If the will is challenged, the attorney for the executor litigates the challenge to the will in the Surrogate’s Court. If you are named as an executor feel free to call us to discuss your responsibilities and how we can help you!

probate lawyerElliot Schlissel is a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. He has been representing individuals in wills, trusts and estate cases for more than 35 years. Elliot and his staff of attorneys provide high quality legal representation regarding all types of estate litigation throughout the Metropolitan New York area.

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