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New York Legal Issues Blog

How to avoid probate if possible

If you are an executor or have a loved one whose estate is ripe for disputes among beneficiaries, the prospect of going through probate may not sit well with you. After all, the notion of heirs and other beneficiaries fighting over pieces of a person’s estate is not exactly the best way to honor a person’s memory. Indeed, it may not be as extreme as some celebrity family fights (e.g. Robin Williams’ family, Casey Kasum, George Michael), but having to fend off greedy people through probate is something to be avoided.

Because of this, it is helpful to know that not all assets need to travel through probate (e.g. the legal process of transferring legal ownership of property from the deceased to another person). In fact, this post will highlight a few important assets that can avoid probate

How to recognize a forged will

In our last post, we highlighted a few signs that a will could be forged. Forgeries are a critical legal basis for will contests. If a will is found to be forged, it could be held to be invalid because the forgery does not accurately or legally express the testator’s true intentions.

But believing that a will has been forged and proving it are two different things. Forgery has to be proven in a court of law, and there are several ways of doing so. This post will identify a few. 

What to look for if you suspect your loved one's will is forged

It is natural to be skeptical about a will that distributes property in an unconscionable manner. If an elderly loved one inexplicably leaves a majority of their estate to someone they hardly know, a new advisor with a sketchy past or a new, significantly younger flame, challenging a will in this context should be expected.

But if the will has the decedent’s signature, is there any way to raise a challenge? The answer to this question is: yes; especially if you believe that the signature is forged. Under New York law, if any part of a will is forged, the will can be determined to be invalid. This post will highlight a few items to look for to discover if a forgery has occurred. 

3 reasons you may have to contest a will

You may pride yourself on having close relationships with many of your family members. You may act as a confidant, caretaker, friend or other role needed at any given time. Because of your strong bonds, your loved ones may have discussed their end-of-life wishes with you or even asked your assistance when drafting their documents. Undoubtedly, you were happy to help.

Now that a loved one has passed, you may feel an immense amount of grief. In addition to that feeling, you may believe that you have a duty to ensure that all parties handle his or her final affairs in the best manner possible. Though you may not have felt that taking on the role of executor for this estate was right for you, you likely still knew many details of the individual's estate plan. Because of this knowledge, you could have the ability to spot an issue with the will.

Predictions for luxury rentals in 2018

As we near the end of 2017, the old adage “the more things change, the more they stay the same” has some added meaning. Towards the end of 2016, a slew of luxury and high-end residences remained unoccupied as many potential buyers and renters presumably were ambivalent about making changes because of the uncertainty following the impending change of administrations. With that, landlords began offering a number of concessions in the hopes of attracting renters.

Fast forward to the end of 2017, and it appears that a year-long trend will continue. According to a recent globest.com report, the market share of landlord concessions in November (including free rent) rose to 29.6 percent, which was the highest since January 2017. In Queens, nearly half of new leases established (44.6 percent) came with landlord concessions.

Can you avoid probate when administering an estate?

The probate process in New York is geared to be an orderly process in which the assets of a person who has recently passed away may be legally transferred to the person’s beneficiaries. While this process should be simple, it oftentimes is not. Essentially, disputes may arise over who actually is entitled to these assets, as well as whether other entities may have their legal claims against the deceased satisfied by making a claim against the estate.

Because of the consternation that can come about with the probate process, it is helpful to know what assets do not need to be transferred through probate. This post will highlight a few of them. 

The basics of tax deductible estate administration costs

It may be a bittersweet feeling to be chosen as a person’s executor. This largely means that you have garnered the respect and trust of the person (and their family) whose estate you are tasked to divide according to the person’s wishes. But like the old adage “with great power comes great responsibility,” there are a number of questions that an executor may have. For example, are there expenses that could (or will) reduce the estate’s value for tax purposes? Additionally, are there expenses that are tax deductible?

This post will highlight a few costs that are tax deductible. 

Competing claims for Charles Manson's estate

It is not surprising that little fanfare was made over the death of notorious cult leader Charles Manson when he passed away in October. After all, he was the personification of evil in America ever since he and several others were sentenced to life in prison for their roles in a number of murders in 1969.

However, like many celebrity estates, there appears to be a battle brewing over the rightful owner of Manson’s estate. According to a foxnews.com report, two people claim that Manson left his entire estate to them. 

Does your estate plan include assets in another country?

No matter how long you have been in the United States, a little piece of you belongs to your home country. After all, you probably have childhood memories and perhaps even family who still live in your native town. If you also own property there, you may have questions about how to include that property in your estate plan.

While having a will or other plan is important for even the simplest estate, you probably already know that taking such steps is even more important if your estate has complicated assets. For example, if you own a business or have assets that are difficult to value, you may place your property and your heirs at a greater risk of loss if you don't make an estate plan. Your foreign property is another example of an asset that requires careful attention.

Three tips for holiday estate planning discussions

For most people (and retailers), Thanksgiving is the gateway to the holiday season. This means that many gatherings involving family and friends will take place between now and the New Year. As we have noted in prior posts, family gatherings are prime opportunities to discuss estate planning.

Like other things involving family, there are boundaries and protocols to these discussions. For those who are new to our blog, we will revisit some of our helpful tips to holding conversations about estate planning during the holiday season. 

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