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New York Legal Issues Blog

Missing documents may lead to probate litigation, other actions

New York residents have a lot to handle after the death of a loved one. Unfortunately, their situations may only become more complicated if the decedent's estate plan was missing important documents or if a lack of clarity regarding beneficiaries exists. This type of scenario may mean that loved ones have to go through probate litigation or take other action in order to address the complications.

One woman in another state experienced such a difficult predicament. According to reports, the woman's husband died in 2016, and she fully expected to obtain the pension that he had earned as a university employee. The woman has multiple sclerosis, and she and her husband had discussed her inheritance of the pension and how it would help her live the rest of her life after his passing.

Investing in commercial property has risks and rewards

Investing in real estate can often help interested parties gain extra income or strengthen their investments. Some New York residents, or individuals investing in property in the state, may start off small with a few residential properties that they fix up and sell or that they choose to rent out for a more steady income stream. However, you may find yourself looking to move up to bigger opportunities, like investing in commercial property.

Certainly, commercial property investments can have a number of benefits, but just like any investment, they also have their risks. Therefore, you may want to consider some common factors that come along with commercial real estate investments before jumping into the deep end.

Remember to include foreign assets when estate planning

Many New York residents may have purchased various assets outside of the country, or they may have a different country of origin and left some assets behind while building a new life in the United States. No matter the case, it is important that individuals remember their foreign assets while estate planning. If they do not, their families may have a difficult time accounting for and obtaining those assets later.

When creating an estate plan, it is important that all of a person's assets are disclosed. Some people may think that they do not need to address their foreign property in their estate plans because the property will not be handled according to U.S. laws, but that is not the case. Parties will still need to detail how that foreign property should pass on and to understand how that property may affect estate taxes.

Probate litigation moves to Supreme Court over inheritance fight

People in New York and across the country often think that they should receive some type of inheritance from a deceased loved one's estate. In many cases, family members or other close parties are entitled to assets, but in others, certain documents may indicate that a family member no longer has a claim to certain assets. However, the situation may not end there, and probate litigation could begin in efforts to obtain those assets.

It was recently reported that a man in another state is taking his inheritance dispute case to the Supreme Court after his case did not prove successful at lower court levels. Apparently, his issue revolves around the fact that the man believes he should have inherited certain real estate from his late mother's estate, but the property instead went to his ex-wife. A transfer-on-death deed had been created that indicated that the ex-wife should obtain the property.

Finding love again may mean updating estate planning decisions

Building a life with another person is not always an easy task. In fact, it may take some individuals more than one try to find the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with. When New York residents do marry for the second or subsequent time, it is important that they also consider how the remarriage will influence their estate planning options.

Correct planning can often help reduce the possibility of conflict later on. Certain issues may present themselves to blended families that other families do not face. Parents may want to find ways to protect their children from previous relationships and ensure that they do not lose out on their inheritances or certain assets. Of course, stepparents may also want to consider their stepchildren when planning.

Which parties have the right to challenge a will?

When settling the New York estate of a loved one, you can face various challenges as you try to navigate the probate process, distribute assets as outlined and give proper notice to all beneficiaries. One of the most significant challenges that can arise at this time is a dispute over the validity, terminology or legality of the will. Contests over a will can be lengthy and stressful for all parties involved. 

Simply disagreeing with a person's wishes or wanting more money is not a valid reason to challenge a will. In fact, only certain parties have the right to contest a will, and they must have a valid reason to do so. It may be helpful to understand who can move forward with a challenge and learn how these disputes are resolved. 

Seemingly unfair distributions may lead to probate litigation

Though most New York residents love their family members a great deal, it can often be difficult to show that love in a manner that everyone feels is equal or at least fair. This type of scenario can become especially prominent after a parent or other close loved one dies. The person may have distributed assets in a manner he or she felt appropriate, but the surviving family may have issues with the distribution that could lead to probate litigation.

Various scenarios could lead to this outcome. For instance, a parent may think that because one child showed more interested in a particular asset while the parent was alive, that child should have it after the parent passes away. However, another child may have actually had a deep attachment to the piece of property but never showed it outwardly. If a discussion about the asset does not take place, a family fight could ensue later on.

The right purchase offer may help a real estate transaction

The real estate market is competitive. Many potential homebuyers, real estate investors and other parties may be interested in the same piece of property. Because this commonly happens, interested parties often bid by making competing purchase offers. This part of the real estate transaction process is important, and mistakes could result in rejected offers.

First, individuals looking to purchase property in New York need to make sure that they utilize the correct purchase offer form. The form should suit the particular property involved, such as one for a new construction residential purchase, and it needs to be the proper state-specific form. The wrong form could easily result in the seller having to reject the offer and the prospective buyer having to find the correct form and resubmit an offer. By that time, the seller could have accepted a different offer.

How do you know if you have grounds to challenge a will?

When a loved one passes away, it is up to those left behind to settle his or her estate. This can be quite a complex process, especially in situations in which a family member or other person believes he or she has grounds to contest the will. There are limits to who can challenge a will and for what grounds, but there are certain circumstances in which it is necessary to undertake this process. 

Challenging a will is difficult. In most cases, the court adheres to the will as written by the deceased, as this is his or her only way to express wishes and desires for the estate. While those who have a stake in the terms of the will may challenge it, these efforts are often unsuccessful. If you think this is the right course of action for you, it is beneficial to seek an understanding of your options and whether or not you have grounds to challenge a will. 

Estate planning mistakes could render wills invalid

Most people create a will in efforts to get their affairs in order and possibly to protect certain assets. However, if the proper estate planning steps are not taken to create the document, it is possible that it could be considered invalid. As a result, serious legal issues could come about.

New York residents may be interested in this type of scenario currently affecting a woman in another state. According to reports, the woman and her husband had created a do-it-yourself will online in 2017. The couple wanted to make sure that their home and other assets would pass to the woman in the event of her husband's death, which was expected due to issues with diabetes and kidney failure. The woman's name was not on any of the paperwork, such as the couple's mortgage, so it was hoped the will would pass those assets on to her without issue.

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