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New York Legal Issues Blog

Undue influence can lead to will contests

Most people want to have the time and opportunity to grieve after a loved one's death. While many New York residents may have that chance, others may feel as if they must put those feelings on hold because concerns have arisen over the person's remaining estate. In some cases, will contests occur due to the belief that a loved one's will does not reflect the person's true intentions.

It was recently reported that this type of legal dispute is currently underway in another state. Apparently, a woman with an estate valued at over $32 million created a will in 2011 that effectively left the entirety of her estate to an employee at the retirement community where she lived. The woman died in 2017, and the executor of the estate filed the 2011 will with the court. The report did state that the beneficiary of this will stopped working at the retirement community in 2018.

Retiring abroad means updating estate planning documents

It is not unusual for people to want to spend their retirement years abroad or invest in foreign property for use whenever they please. Of course, this type of move requires a considerable amount of consideration and financial planning to ensure that important details are not overlooked. Additionally, New York residents looking to spend their later years abroad may want to make sure they keep estate planning in mind.

If parties are nearing their retirement years, it is likely that they have already created their estate plans. If they choose to move abroad, those plans need to be revisited. In particular, parties may want to pay attention to how their estates could be taxed both in the United States and in the country they later reside.

Aretha Franklin's sons file will contests over found documents

When New York family members have concerns over the contents of their loved ones' estate plans, it is not unusual for legal action to result. In some cases, will contests can help surviving family members ensure that any information in the documents reflects the true wishes of the deceased. It is also possible for such contests to arise when new documents are discovered. 

It was recently reported that this type of situation is currently affecting the estate of late singer Aretha Franklin. Apparently, three handwritten wills were discovered in Franklin's home, two of which were dated 2010 and another dated 2014. It was unclear who discovered these documents. Nonetheless, the personal representative for Franklin's estate presented the documents to legal counsel for the heirs, and now, proceedings are set to determine their validity.

Considering options for real estate investments

Making investments can often help New York residents earn extra income, and in many cases, their investments can prove lucrative. In particular, some parties may be interested in real estate investments, and this interest could help them in numerous ways. Of course, it is important to understand viable investment options, especially for those just getting started in this area.

One of the most common ways to invest in real estate is to purchase rental properties and become a landlord. The landlord will handle the affairs of the property itself while the tenant pays rent and occupies the space. However, if the landlord chooses to handle the affairs of the property personally, he or she may find that issues are constantly cropping up. Fortunately, a property owner could hire a property manager to handle problems that arise. The latter option may be especially useful to foreign investors who may not live near their rental property.

Collectibles and other items can create chaos at probate

Establishing an estate plan is an important but often overlooked step to take at any point in one's adult life. Like many, your parent may have started with a will or power of attorney then added to the plan as your family grew or when other changes in life's circumstances warranted a change. Your parent made sure to update the beneficiaries and trustees periodically, but did he or she protect those assets named in the will or funded to the trusts?

While it may not be difficult to keep track of investment accounts or real estate, other assets are not as easy to protect. When an estate includes unusual, portable or collectible items, the owner of the estate may have to take extra steps to ensure the items are still in the possession of the estate when it comes time to distribute them to the heirs.

Even with estate planning, sibling rivalry can cause issues

In a best-case scenario, a loved one would have left behind an estate plan for surviving family members to follow during probate. Of course, even careful estate planning may not always address every detail of an estate, or it may not account for the possibility of conflict among family members. As a result, it is possible for New York families to face probate disputes.

Though most people want their families to come together and feel close after a loved one's passing, that is not always what happens. Some individuals may have a keen focus on how the remaining property will be distributed. If siblings do not get along, certain details of the estate plan could increase the potential for strife. For instance, if a parent names one child as an executor or trustee and does not include another child, that appointment could cause conflict if the siblings are competitive.

Prince's estate still at center of probate litigation

After a loved one's passing, many surviving family members hope that the individual will be laid to rest and find some sort of peace. What this particular sentiment means can differ from person to person, but some New York residents may feel as if loved ones are still experiencing unrest if their final affairs have not been properly handled. A half-sister to the late musical artist Prince has expressed such sentiments as probate litigation over his estate continues

According to reports, Sharon Nelson believes that her half-brother is not resting in peace because Comerica Bank and Trust is mismanaging his remaining estate. The bank is the administrator of the estate, and Nelson believes that the estate will go bankrupt by the end of the year due to the actions of the financial institution. One issue mentioned in the report is the fact that the bank is paying $90,000 a month to store unreleased music in a vault.

Estate planning is not a one-time event: Updates are necessary

A New York family who has lost a loved one understands the importance of having clear documents by which they can understand the wishes of the deceased and settle his or her estate appropriately. This process is significantly more difficult when a person does not have a will or fails to update his or her will after significant life changes. Estate planning is an ongoing process, and documents should be adjusted when major life changes come along.

Life is unpredictable, and sometimes things happen that require changing the terms of existing estate planning documents. Some of these changes include divorce, remarriage, the death of a beneficiary and more. When a person fails to update plans, it can leave beneficiaries and heirs in a difficult position, and they may have to move forward with litigation simply to settle disputes and questions. 

Investing in commercial property involves work

Real estate may become an interest of individuals in New York and around the world at different stages in their lives. Some people may know they want to invest in commercial property at early stages in their business lives, and others may not have an interest until later in life when looking for more passive income. Still, when acting as a commercial landlord, it is important to understand the work.

While rental income can be relatively passive, landlords still need to put in the necessary work. This work may mean finding the right property to invest in and finding the right individuals to lease the space. It can also mean actively managing the property to ensure that no serious issues arise either with the property itself or with the tenants.

Protecting yourself in a real estate investment

Investing in properties, both developed and undeveloped, can be a profitable business. Whether you are from the United States or just want to invest in property here in New York, you may want to consider protecting yourself from personal liability should anything go wrong.

One way to do this is to create an entity to hold the property. This article touches on the benefits a real estate holding company can provide you as you enter into the property-investment business.

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