The death of a loved one in New York can be difficult enough without legal wrangling as to the contents of their estate. However, it is an unfortunate reality that people will not hesitate to begin a legal dispute over who will receive what. This is not limited to large estates, but it can happen with more modest and small estates too. One certainty regardless of the size of the estate and what it contains is that any legal dispute, will contest or court battle requires help from an experienced law firm.
There are many reasons why a court battle might ensue over the estate of a testator. There could have been confusion as to what the person really wanted and vague language as to what was said and what was written could complicate matters further. Multiple wills could have been written. There might be assertions that there was an oral statement saying one thing and a written statement saying another. Or there could be financial entanglements that must be undone so the entire estate’s worth can be gleaned.
Contesting a will frequently commences when family members cannot come to an agreement as to what the will said and what it implied. Some will allege that other family members used coercion to get what they wanted from the testator. This type of disagreement rarely gets settled by family-based discussion and a legal filing is needed. Another issue that might arise is a breach of fiduciary duty. The executor is tasked with making certain decisions with the proceeds of the estate. Some family members, however, will not see the situation in the same way as the executor, sparking disagreement. The goal of the executor is to function in the estate’s best interests. This can be a matter of perspective that will need legal assistance to assess.
Before doing anything else – especially making mistakes that will be regrettable and damaging – those who are thinking about contesting a will or have concerns about any other aspect of an estate should discuss their case with an experienced attorney. A law firm that has skill at helping families negotiate and with estate litigation should be called as soon as possible to get to work on the case.