Estate Litigation FAQs for Our Clients

In these Frequently Asked Questions, our estate litigation attorneys provide helpful information and useful perspective on many of the most common questions and concerns. If your loved one died without a will or if you wonder if you need to contest some element of the estate, start here to find out more about your rights and options.

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  • What is a “Disposition” in New York Estate Law?

    DISPOSITION: (noun) / a transfer of property.

    A disposition is a transfer of property by a person during life or by will.

    Plain English translation: A transfer of ownership of property. The transfer can occur during one’s lifetime or through a will or trust where the transfer occurs upon death (also known as a testamentary disposition).

    Examples:

    “She disposed of her property through her last will, which contained three dispositions. The house was given to her son. The bank account was given to her granddaughter. And the rest was given to her husband.”

    “The trust contained a disposition to Anthony of $100,000.00.”

    Do You Need The Help Of An Estate & Trust Litigation Attorney In The New York Metro Area?

    If you need legal help with an estate issue you should speak with an experienced estate litigation attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our New York City office directly at 212.227.2424 to schedule your free consultation. We proudly serve clients throughout New York and northern New Jersey including Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, The Bronx, Nassau County and Westchester County.

  • What is a Person in New York Estate Law?

    Definition of PERSON: (noun) / a natural person, an association, board, any corporation, court, governmental agency, authority or subdivision, partnership or other firm and the state.

    Plain English translation: For the most part, a person is simply a person. No need for translation, but as you can see from the legal definition, the word could refer to a number types of entities.

    Do You Need The Help Of An Estate & Trust Litigation Attorney In The New York Metro Area?

    If you need legal help with an estate issue you should speak with an experienced estate litigation attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our New York City office directly at 212.227.2424 to schedule your free consultation. We proudly serve clients throughout New York and northern New Jersey including Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, The Bronx, Nassau County and Westchester County.

  • What is a Personal Representative in New York Estate Law?

    Definition of PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE: A personal representative is a person who has received letters to administer the estate of a decedent.  (New York Estates, Powers & Trusts Law §1-2.13)

    Plain English translation: A personal representative is typically the person appointed to be in charge of a decedent’s estate. A personal representative is generally considered either an executor (if the decedent died with a will) or an administrator (if the decedent died without a will).

    Upon appointment, a personal representative will receive either letters testamentary (if the decedent died with a will) or letters of administration (if the decedent died without a will) from the Surrogate’s Court. These letters will grant the personal representative the power to gather and administer the property of the decedent.

    Do You Need The Help Of An Estate & Trust Litigation Attorney In The New York Metro Area?

    If you need legal help with an estate issue you should speak with an experienced estate litigation attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our New York City office directly at 212.227.2424 to schedule your free consultation. We proudly serve clients throughout New York and northern New Jersey including Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, The Bronx, Nassau County and Westchester County.

  • What is a "will" in New York estate law?

    Definition of WILL:

    (noun) / a last will, including all the codicils thereto

    This is the definition set forth by the New York Estates, Powers, and Trusts Law as well as the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act. But what is a will, really?

    Plain English translation: A last will is a legal document that provides a person’s last wishes with respect to property and dependents upon that person’s death. It is a set of instructions for disposing of a person’s property, nominating an executor to oversee the transfer of that property, and nominating someone to take custody of minor children.

    Do You Need Legal Help Regarding Probate  Or Estate Litigation In The New York Metro Area?

    If a loved one died without a will and you need legal assistance regarding the probate process, or you find yourself involved in estate litigation you should be speak with an experienced probate attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our New York City office directly at 212.227.2424 to schedule your free consultation. We proudly serve clients throughout New York and northern New Jersey including Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, The Bronx, Nassau County and Westchester County.

  • What is "property" in New York estate law?

    Definition of PROPERTY:

    (noun) / anything that may be the subject of ownership and is real or personal property, or is a chose in action1

    Plain English translation: Property is anything that can be owned. Real property is land. A house, building, or other structure is improved real property. A condominium apartment owner owns a fraction of the land on which the building sits. Personal property is essentially all other property. A “chose in action” is the right to recover personal property that is wrongfully held by another.

    Do You Need Legal Help Regarding Probate  Or Estate Litigation In The New York Metro Area?

    If a loved one died without a will and you need legal assistance regarding the probate process, or you find yourself involved in estate litigation you should be speak with an experienced probate attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our New York City office directly at 212.227.2424 to schedule your free consultation. We proudly serve clients throughout New York and northern New Jersey including Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, The Bronx, Nassau County and Westchester County.

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    1 EPTL § 1-2.15; SCPA § 103 (44)

  • What is an "infant" in New York estate law?

    Definition of INFANT or MINOR:

    (noun) / a person who has not attained the age of eighteen years1

    Unlike its everyday meaning, "infant" does not mean a very young child or baby. It is the legal term, within the context of New York estate law, to refer to a minor.

    Do You Need Legal Help Regarding Probate  Or Estate Litigation In The New York Metro Area?

    If a loved one died without a will and you need legal assistance regarding the probate process, or you find yourself involved in estate litigation you should be speak with an experienced probate attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our New York City office directly at 212.227.2424 to schedule your free consultation. We proudly serve clients throughout New York and northern New Jersey including Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, The Bronx, Nassau County and Westchester County.

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    1 New York Estates, Powers & Trusts Law §1-2.9-a; Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 103 (27)

  • What is an "incompetent" in New York estate law?

    Definition of INCOMPETENT:

    (noun) / a person judicially declared to be incapable of managing his or her own affairs1

    Plain English translation: In order for a person to be considered legally incompetent, a court must make a determination that the person cannot manage himself or his affairs by reason of age, mental illness, or otherwise.

    Do You Need Legal Help Regarding Probate  Or Estate Litigation In The New York Metro Area?

    If a loved one died without a will and you need legal assistance regarding the probate process, or you find yourself involved in estate litigation you should be speak with an experienced probate attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our New York City office directly at 212.227.2424 to schedule your free consultation. We proudly serve clients throughout New York and northern New Jersey including Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, The Bronx, Nassau County and Westchester County.

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    1 New York Estates, Powers & Trusts Law § 1-2.9; SCPA § 103 (26)

  • What is an "estate" in New York estate law?

    Definition of ESTATE: (noun) / ownership interest

    Depending on the context, “estate” may mean: the interest which a person has in property or the aggregate of property which a person owns (New York Estates Powers & Trusts Law § 1-2.6).

    Plain English translation: “Estate” is used many different contexts but, at its simplest, it just means ownership.

    A person can own real estate, meaning an ownership interest in land, usually referred to as title, as in “the landlord holds title; the tenant merely has a right of possession.”

    “Trust estate” refers to property held by a trust where the trustee holds legal title (right to manage) and the beneficiary holds beneficial title (right to benefit from).

    “Probate estate” refers to property passing through one’s last will.

    When a living person refers to his or her “estate” it is usually a reference to the person’s aggregate ownership, as in “I’ve built a large estate of land, stock, and commodities.”

    Do You Need Legal Help Regarding Probate  Or Estate Litigation In The New York Metro Area?

    If a loved one died without a will and you need legal assistance regarding the probate process, or you find yourself involved in estate litigation you should be speak with an experienced probate attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our New York City office directly at 212.227.2424 to schedule your free consultation. We proudly serve clients throughout New York and northern New Jersey including Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, The Bronx, Nassau County and Westchester County.

  • What is a "creator" in New York estate law?

    Definition of CREATOR: (noun) / a person who makes a disposition of property

    New York Estates Powers & Trusts Law § 1-2.2 provides this general definition. However, the usage varies depending on context. A “disposition of property” means a direction of where the property will pass or to whom it will pass as in “the creator disposed of his house by leaving it to his daughter through his trust.”

    The term “creator” is typically used in the context of a trust, whereas the term “testator” is typically used in the context of a will. “In her will, the testator left all her jewelry to her son.” The creator “creates” the document that disposes of the property.

    Synonyms include trustor and grantor.

    Do You Need Legal Help Regarding Probate  Or Estate Litigation In The New York Metro Area?

    If a loved one died without a will and you need legal assistance regarding the probate process, or you find yourself involved in estate litigation you should be speak with an experienced probate attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our New York City office directly at 212.227.2424 to schedule your free consultation. We proudly serve clients throughout New York and northern New Jersey including Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, The Bronx, Nassau County and Westchester County.

  • FAQ: Will Contests - Do I have grounds for contesting a will? (Part 4 of 6)

    FAQ – Will Contests: Do I have grounds for contesting a will?  (Part 4 of 6)

    Grounds for Contesting a Will

    Undue Execution
    Revocation
    Incapacitation <<<<

    Fraud
    Undue Influence

    In the previous posts in this series on will contests in New York, we discussed who may contest a last will and testament and on what grounds a will may be contested.  In this Part 4, we will go into further detail on the third ground on which a last will and testament may be contested  – incapacitation aka lack of testamentary capacity.  Incapacitation is the claim that the Testator did not have the testamentary capacity required to execute a last will and testament.  Remember, the information below focuses on will contests in New York and more specifically on will contests in New York City.

    Lack of Testamentary Capacity:

    In order to be deemed to have the capacity necessary to execute a will, a testator must generally understand:

    1. What property he owns;
    2. Who are the natural objects of his bounty; and
    3. That he is executing a will and its implications.

    The standard for testamentary capacity is a relatively low one when compared with the standard for capacity to execute a contract.  The Testator need only have testamentary capacity at the time the will was executed.  So, a testator who suffered from senility could be deemed to have had testamentary capacity if, at the time the will was executed, he was experiencing a lucid interval.

    Only experts and the witnesses to the will can offer their opinion as to whether the decedent had testamentary capacity at the time the will was executed.  Other parties can testify about the decedent’s actions but cannot offer their opinion as to whether the testator possessed the capacity required to execute a will.

    Do You Need The Help Of An Estate & Trust Litigation Attorney In The New York Metro Area?

    If you need legal help with an estate issue you should speak with an experienced estate litigation attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our New York City office directly at 212.227.2424 to schedule your free consultation. We proudly serve clients throughout New York and northern New Jersey including Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, The Bronx, Nassau County and Westchester County.