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Estate Litigation Attorneys in White Plains, New York

When a person passes away in New York, the personal representative or executor is often called upon to administer the decedent's estate and distribute assets to the rightful inheritors. However, during estate administration, conflicts and disagreements can arise between surviving loved ones and/or the executor. Such estate disputes may arise due to the validity of a will, breach of fiduciary duty, rivalries among surviving family members, and more. 

Estate disputes are never simple. If you have a dispute over a deceased loved one's will or trust and want to understand your rights to challenge it, consulting with a knowledgeable New York State estate litigation attorney is imperative. At Rutkin & Wolf PLLC, we are committed to offering comprehensive guidance and representation to clients in estate litigation matters. Our legal team can evaluate the reasons for the disputes, determine whether you have a case, and walk you through the steps involved. 

Rutkin & Wolf PLLC proudly serves clients across White Plains, New York, and the surrounding areas, including the Bronx, New Rochelle, and Lower Westchester County. Set up a consultation with our team today. 

Common Estate Disputes  

An estate dispute is a disagreement or conflict between surviving family members, siblings, close relatives, or beneficiaries during the estate administration process. Here are some common estate disputes: 

  • Breach of fiduciary duty 

  • Disputes about the validity of a will 

  • Disagreement with the personal representative or executor 

  • Tortious interference with inheritance 

  • The lack of testamentary capacity 

  • Issues involving disability or sudden incapacitation 

  • Disputes over asset and property distribution 

  • Undue influence or signs of coercion 

  • The decedent's second or later marriages 

  • Failure of the personal representative or executor to be accountable 

  • Rivalries among beneficiaries, heirs, siblings, and close relatives 

A seasoned attorney can enlighten you about the estate administration process in New York State and possible issues that could result in disputes and delays. 

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Estate Administration Process  

In New York, cases involving probate and estate administration are handled by the Surrogate's Court. When a person dies testate (with a will), the will must go through probate to determine its validity and execute the terms of the will. If the person died intestate (without a will), the estate will be administered in accordance with New York intestate succession laws. 

Estate Administration with a Will 

If the decedent died with a will in place, the named personal representative or executor in the will files a petition with the Surrogate's Court. Once the court determines that the will is valid, it will be admitted to probate, and the executor will be formally appointed. This gives the named executor the legal authority and duty to act on the estate's behalf, gather assets, pay debts and taxes, and carry out the decedent's wishes. 

Estate Administration without a Will 

If the deceased person dies without a will, the estate will be administered according to New York's laws. When there is no valid will, the Surrogate's Court will appoint an administrator to settle the estate. In most cases, the court may appoint the surviving spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings, or close relatives as the administrator. 

During estate administration, various challenges may arise. Such estate disputes and issues might arise from how the executor settled the estate or how the decedent's wishes were interpreted. For disputes regarding the validity of a will, a person with interest in the will may be eligible to challenge it through a will contest. 

Who Can Contest a Will in New York? 

Under New York laws, any person who has been affected by the last will and testament may be entitled to challenge it once it has been submitted to the Surrogate's Court for approval. This is referred to as a “will contest.” A will contest can be initiated by any individual who has financial interests in the decedent's estate. These include beneficiaries, heirs, creditors, and devisees. 

Grounds for Contesting a Will in New York 

Here are some legal reasons or grounds for contesting a will in New York State: 

  • Lack of validity 

  • Lack of mental capacity when drafting the estate plan/will 

  • Fraud 

  • Forgery 

  • Duress 

  • Undue influence in drafting the estate plan 

  • Improper execution 

  • Revocation 

An experienced New York estate litigation attorney can help file your will contest petition and represent you throughout the legal proceedings. 

Work With an Experienced Estate Litigation Attorney 

Estate disputes and legal disagreements between surviving family members usually result in hostilities and could destroy familial relationships. If you suspect foul play or believe that your deceased loved one's will was improperly executed, hiring an estate litigation attorney is crucial. 

At Rutkin & Wolf PLLC, our lawyers are ready to guide and represent clients in complex estate administration matters involving will contests. As your legal counsel, we can conduct a thorough investigation and help determine whether you have a legal reason to contest the will. Our goal is to help you and your family make intelligent decisions.  

Estate Litigation Attorneys in White Plains, New York

If you have a dispute over a decedent's will or trust and want to petition a will contest, contact us at Rutkin & Wolf PLLC for an initial consultation. Our attorneys can offer you the detailed legal guidance and skilled representation you need in your case. Our firm proudly serves clients across White Plains, the Bronx, New Rochelle, Lower Westchester County, and therest of the state of New York.