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New York Legal Issues Blog

Undue influence may give way to will contests in New York

After the passing of a family member, it is common for tensions to run high. Surviving loved ones are often in emotional states, and a simple issue could easily turn into a significant one. In particular, New York families may face difficulties if will contests come about during the probate proceedings for their deceased loved ones' estates.

Of course, in order to contest a will, a valid reason is needed. One of the most common reasons for contesting a will is if someone took advantage of a vulnerable person in hopes of gaining some or more of the estate. This action is commonly known as using undue influence over the person. The individual is typically a person who spends a considerable amount of time with the creator of the will, such as a caretaker.

Preparing to purchase commercial property

Making any type of step in real estate can be intimidating. When individuals need to purchase commercial property, they face a major undertaking. Fortunately, New York residents looking to make such a move do not have to enter into the process feeling lost.

First, individuals may want to ask themselves a number of questions in order to understand what they are looking for. For example, parties may want to assess their location needs, what their financial range for the purchase is and whether they want to buy or lease the property. They may also want to determine how much time they are willing to invest in finding the right location. Finding the right spot for the right price is not always a quick effort.

Probate litigation may stem from family conflicts

Many people expect or even rely on an inheritance from a deceased loved one. Some may have these expectations for sentimental reasons or because they are facing financial struggles and are glad that a loved one can help from beyond the grave. However, probate litigation can often have a major impact on the inheritances that many New York residents think they are going to obtain.

It was recently reported that a survey among attorneys, accountants and trust officers showed that conflicts among family members posed a substantial threat to estate plans. Many people may have unrealistic expectations of what they should have received, and it is also common for parties to not know how much to expect due to a lack of communication regarding the deceased's intentions. Complications can also arise due to individuals having married multiple times, having kids from different relationships and when stepchildren or stepparents are involved.

When estate planning, consider the various helping roles

When getting final affairs in order, New York residents will need to appoint various people to different roles. Whether these individuals will carry out duties before a person's death or after, it is important that parties considering their appointments understand the different positions they may come across while estate planning. No one wants to give just anyone a great deal of responsibility, so knowing what certain roles entail may help with decision making.

If individuals want to appoint someone to act on their behalf through a power of attorney document, the appointed person is known as an agent. This agent may make decisions regarding financial or health-related issues. Another person that may take on responsibilities while an individual is still alive is a Social Security representative payee. The Social Security Administration will appoint someone to this position if a person is unable to manage benefits on his or her own.

Would you buy a home without a walk-through?

For most people in New York, the process of purchasing a new home is personal and hands-on. It may involve scoping out properties online, comparing what is available with your wish list, and making multiple visits to the homes that are most appealing to you. Being able to step into the home and examine its hidden spaces may help you make a decision when several properties are similar.

The opportunity to physically inspect a property is not always available to every home buyer, especially those who live outside the U.S. Since the demand for U.S. real estate is still high among foreign buyers, it is not unusual for those in other countries to purchase their homes before they ever set foot in them.

Not all assets go through the probate process

After a loved one's death, it is common for surviving family to have concerns over what will happen to the decedent's assets. Hopefully, the person will have created an estate plan that gives at least some guidance on property distribution and other important information. It may also help surviving loved ones to understand probate and how assets are distributed.

While some New York residents may understand that probate is the legal process through which the will is validated and assets are distributed, not all assets go through this process. Some people may assume that the will is the end-all document that dictates who gets what. However, this document and the probate proceedings only address probate property. This type of property includes personal property, real property and bank accounts, for example.

Estate planning can go beyond addressing assets

When undertaking any type of endeavor, it is important to have the right information. This factor is especially important for New York residents looking to get their end-of-life affairs in order. A lack of proper knowledge when it comes to estate planning could leave room for individuals to have planning mistakes or no plan at all.

One misconception that some parties may have is that estate planning only deals with a person's assets, and as a result, a will or other asset-addressing document is all that is needed. This incorrect notion could leave individuals in a tough predicament, especially if they end up in a life-threatening or incapacitating situation. Estate plans can go far beyond assets and address health-related aspects as well.

Real estate deals involving a foreign investor becoming less rare

Any type of real estate transaction can come with risks and rewards. Commercial real estate may have more at stake because it tends to involve business aspects as well. When a foreign investor is also involved, there can be a lot of important information to consider. Some New York readers may be interested to know that commercial real estate investments often involve foreign clients.

A recent report from the National Association of Realtors indicated that approximately one-fifth of NAR members closed on a commercial real estate transaction that involved a foreign client last year. Apparently, foreign investors tend to gravitate more toward smaller commercial real estate markets because many of the closing deals came in under $2.5 million. It was also reported that 35 percent of NAR realtors saw an increase in their international clientele over the last five years.

TV gives unrealistic expectations for real estate transactions

Buying a new home can be an exciting time in a New York resident's life. Of course, there are many aspects that go into home buying, like viewing homes, getting finances in order and a lot of paperwork. Some individuals may even watch a bit too much television and believe that real estate transactions will be a breeze.

Despite the way TV shows make it look, buying a home is a considerable ordeal. Because viewing homes, making offers, and agreeing to terms and renovations all take place over the course of a 30-minute or hour-long episode, many people may think that the process will move relatively quickly. That is not the case. In order to find the right home, individuals may have to view dozens of listings and face lengthy negotiations over contract terms.

Carefully examine your estate plan during divorce

Major life events, such as the passing of a loved one or the addition of a child to your family, often impact every area of your life. Not only does the dynamic of your family change, but the simplest things, such as morning routines and holiday traditions, may take on new meaning after someone comes into your life or leaves. Many people do not realize that their estate plans also face impacts after major life changes.

Divorce is one of those events that brings monumental change, including to an established estate plan. As painful as your divorce may be, you run the risk of causing even more pain if you fail to amend your estate plan in the face of this major life event. While a divorce may automatically invalidate some elements of your estate plan, it is always a good idea to review your documents after any major life change.

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