Most estate planning begins with the formation of a will. Typically, people will draft a will in order to designate how they want their property and assets distributed upon their deaths. Here in the state of New York, the Surrogate's Court is the venue that will establish the validity of a decedent's will and oversee the distribution of its contents.
One of the requirements the Surrogate's Court may consider is whether the decedent created the document while in control of his or her mental faculties. Frequent readers of our blog may recall a previous article we wrote regarding probate litigation. In that article, we discussed how family members sometimes do not always agree with individuals who stand to gain something from a will. In legal parlance, those recipients are known as benefactors. Many probate litigation cases involve family members who challenge whether a benefactor may have unduly influenced the decisions of the person forming the will.
Some experts in the field of elder abuse believe that there are opportunists who ingratiate themselves with older people with the ultimate goal of gaining control of their assets and property. These individuals can be other family members, potential romantic interests or simply con artists who prey on the isolation and loneliness many elderly victims experience.
If you suspect undue influence has played a role in the formation of a loved one's will, there are a few things you should know. You may need an attorney to help you prevail in probate litigation. That's because some of these tricksters use very effective methods to gain control. For example, they may engage in quickie marriages to gain legal leverage. They may also employ the use of bogus sweepstakes or charities to obtain key signatures on legal instruments like powers of attorney. An attorney experienced in probate litigation can help voice your opposition to the execution of an improperly created will.
Our law firm has over 50 combined years of legal experience representing clients throughout New York. Based in Rochester, our probate administration attorneys can assist you with any guidance and counseling you may require to help you bring an estate through probate in a favorable manner. Prospective clients should know that we offer free initial consultations regarding matters involving probate litigation.