Estate Litigation and Will Contests
New York Estate Litigation
Death is emotional. There’s no getting around that fundamental fact. One of the principal dangers of emotionally charged situations lies in the loss of objectivity that naturally accompanies an overflow of emotion. One of the first jobs of a New York elder law attorney in the arena of estate litigation is a simple determination: does a case exist here? Many times, simply discussing the history and potential outcome of a case is enough to make a survivor realize they’re not really interested in litigation.
Make no mistake: our first priority as elder law attorneys is a swift and civilized resolution to the dispute. And although honoring the memory of the deceased requires that we first seek an amicable resolution, some conditions exist under which litigation is the only viable option.
The most obvious case involves a survivor who feels that his or her rights have been denied. It may be a spouse who’s been denied the right of election under New York Law or a sibling or spouse whose rights have been infringed upon by the terms of the Will—in either case, litigation may be necessary to ensure that the wishes of the deceased are carried out within the bounds set forth by New York elder law.
A less common type of case involves a dispute between survivors and trustees. Whether it’s a survivor who wishes to challenge the validity or performance of a trustee, or a trustee facing a challenge from a disgruntled family member, our New York elder law attorneys are fully capable of parsing the Will of the deceased and ensuring that it’s being carried out legally, fully, and properly.
Sometimes disputes arise over implementation of the Will. Especially when trusts have been established, and even when the instructions governing those trusts have been carefully and clearly stipulated, those left behind can honestly and passionately disagree over how the deceased would have chosen to spend the funds in the trust. Our New York elder law attorneys are skilled negotiators, often able to avoid a full-blown lawsuit by ensuring that all parties are clearly expressing their wishes and clearly hearing what the other side is saying.
Regardless of your relationship to the deceased, you’re aware that his or her last wishes didn’t include rancorous, angry legal proceedings over the Will; our elder law attorneys can inject objectivity and thorough knowledge of the law into any dispute concerning a loved one’s last wishes.
It’s easy to forget in the emotion of the moment, but your family’s story will go on; it doesn’t end with the loss of a loved one. This means that the goal of any estate litigation, no matter how hotly disputed, must be conflict resolution, rather than simple victory. Conflict resolution is the difference between families that have moved together past the loss of a loved one, and families that can no longer meet in the same house for holidays. An experienced, objective elder law attorney who is sensitive to the emotions of the situation can help ensure that your family’s story survives this stressful chapter.
Contact one of our New York elder law attorneys today to schedule a consultation concerning your family’s estate litigation needs.