Long Island and New York City Wills and Estate Litigation Lawyers
A large majority of wills and estates contests, in the Surrogate’s Court in New York, involve family members fighting over money, assets and control of these assets. This type of litigation can be protracted and nasty. The experienced, dedicated will contest trial lawyers at the Law Offices of Elliot S. Schlissel have more than 80 years combined experienced in litigating will contests. Our attorneys diligently and faithfully represent our clients and obtain excellent results while maintaining the highest degree of professional representation. Our attorneys are known by Judges and Court personnel and well-thought of in the legal community. In the past 30 years, our firm has handled numerous matters involving all aspects of estate law practice and estate litigation.
Litigating an Estate
Most estate proceedings start by the service of process on the interested parties involved in the estate. The document served is called the Probate Citation. The purpose of this is to place persons of interest on notice the executor is taking action to probate a will. The citation will have a court return date. It is important either you or your attorney appear in court on this date to protect your rights.
Challenges to Wills
There are a variety of challenges to set aside a will. It can be argued:
- The will was improperly executed
- The testator (the person who died whose will is being submitted to the Court for Probate) lacked mental capacity
- There was undue influence
- There is the existence of a later will
- The will is forged
Lacking Mental Capacity
For a will to be created the person whose will it is must possess the requisite mental capacity to understand the nature and circumstances of the document he or she is signing. If the person who allegedly prepared the will did not have the requisite mental capacity to execute the will due to mental illness, Alzheimer disease, confusion, senility or other mental issues, the will can be challenged.
It is usually necessary to bring in medical experts such as treating physicians or outside experts to review medical records and to present testimony with regard to the lack of mental capacity of the testator (the person preparing the will).
Fraud or Duress
The will can be challenged due to the grounds of fraud or duress. The individual making the will must have free will and not be forced or improperly motivated to execute the will. The will must be executed without the testator being subject to threats or other allegations that would eliminate his or her ability to make a reasonable judgment with regard to the preparation of a will.
Undo influence deals with situations where an individual or individuals develop a confidential or loving relationship with the testator which puts them into a position of power to take advantage of the testator leading him or her to execute a will without free will in decision making. Undue influence can be caused by family members, friends, neighbors, doctors, nurses, home health care workers, attorneys and other individuals of influence in the testator’s life.
A will must be signed by the testator. It must be his or her original signature on the will. If another individual signs the will in place of the testator, the will is considered to be forged and invalid.
The will that needs to be admitted into probate for the testator is his or her Last Will and Testament. If an earlier will is submitted into probate it can be set aside by proving that there was a later will.
Respected Will Contest Lawyers
If you feel you have issues involving the validity or execution of a will, the wills and estates lawyers at the Law Offices of Elliot S. Schlissel can advise you of your rights and the potential of success in a will contest. Our attorneys represent individuals who seek to challenge wills as well as individuals defending the validity if wills. Call us for a free consultation and we will analyze the will situation and provide you with the best options in dealing with this matter. Our office telephone numbers are 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802, 800-344-6431.