When conflict arises in the estate context, it is important to speak with an attorney whose practice focuses on estates in Surrogate’s Court. While many lawyers handle estate matters, there is a reason why Surrogate’s Court is a separate Court.
Whether you are a nominated Executor of a Will or you are seeking to challenge a Will, give us a call to discuss your options.
Often Probate [link to probate page] is a quick and efficient process, but sometimes issues arise as to the validity of the Will itself. Did Mom know what she was signing when she signed the Will? Is that even Mom’s signature? Did someone pressure or unduly influence Mom to make those gifts in her Will?
All those questions and more raise the idea that maybe this Will should not be granted probate by the Court and should be discussed with a competent attorney as soon as possible to avoid defaulting on any of your rights or responsibilities under the Will or to the estate.
Once you have spoken to a lawyer and have determined your concerns about the Will may be grounds to fight the Will, we would appear in Court and make the claim. Once such a claim is made, the process of a Will contest unfolds and the litigation begins with discovery of documents and sworn depositions of the witnesses to the Will and the lawyer who prepared the Will. The goal of the process is to ensure the Will was done properly and correctly. Given that the requirements for a properly executed Will is quite detailed and specific, the goal of these depositions and discovery is to uncover exactly what the situation is with the Will. See here for a brief discussion on the specifics of signing a Will.
A contested accounting will arise after the fiduciary has been appointed (either an Executor, under a Will or Administrator when there is no Will) and the Fiduciary does something wrong while managing the money. Sometimes a fiduciary may improperly remove assets without permission and sometimes the fiduciary doesn’t collect money they should have and that results in a loss to the estate - you and a beneficiary – you should contact an attorney with experience litigating these matters in the Surrogate’s Court.
Sometimes the estate collected money it should not have and sometimes the estate is trying to collect money that someone does not want to give up. In situations like that a petition to turnover assets would be appropriate. The goal would be to tell the Judge that we think these certain assets should or should not be part of the estate.
Let us take on the stress of Estate Administration.
Contact us to see how we can help you through this tough time.