Whether you need to create your will, serve as executor of an estate, or challenge a loved one’s will, a Tarrytown probate lawyer can provide invaluable support and assistance. When most people think of the probate attorney, they often think of things like will contests. However, probate attorneys do much more than just help heirs who want to challenge a loved one’s will. The truth is that a Tarrytown probate lawyer can have a role to play at every stage of the will creation and probate process. As such, these attorneys can be your best resource for protecting your interests before and during the probate effort.
Assistance in Writing a Will
If you need to create your will, it’s always wise to have a professional handle the matter. Wills are, after all, legal documents. As such, state law has much to say about how they are created, who you can name as an executor, what you can accomplish with the document, and how it needs to be executed. Even small mistakes could leave the will document open to challenge when you die. The best way to ensure that your Last Will and Testament is crafted in accordance with those rules is to have the process done by a competent attorney.
There are other benefits to that as well. For example, those who try to craft wills on their own often miss out on important estate planning tools that can provide a host of added benefits for their late-life and legacy planning efforts. Incapacity planning, business planning, and long-term planning are all things that typically get ignored by those who set out to create their own wills.
Help with Probating a Will
If you’re an executor charged with probating a loved one’s estate, then you already know how complex that process can be. There’s far more to settling an estate than just passing on an inheritance to the beneficiaries named in the will. For example, your job as an executor will require that you have regular contact with the court, submitting petitions, reports, and inventories. Executors must identify, locate, and secure all assets owned by the decedent. These assets then need to be inventoried and appraised to determine their value, so that the estate’s total worth can be determined.
Understanding executor duties
As an executor, you need to provide notification to beneficiaries and creditors. Creditor notifications are designed to give those with valid claims against the estate an opportunity to pursue them. Executors must evaluate all claims, determine their validity, and pay those that are legitimate. In addition, final income tax forms must be prepared, and any taxes due must be paid using the estate assets.
For larger estates, estate tax may be due as well. The executor must protect the value of the assets so that they can be distributed to heirs. Any failure to do this properly could leave that executor liable for legal action from those heirs. Executors must assist the court with the distribution of assets once all debts have been paid.
Guidance in Challenging a Will
For some heirs, the terms of a will may simply not be acceptable. This often occurs in instances where a divorced spouse was expecting a larger share of an estate, or where relatives have been unexpectedly written out of wills. If you feel that a will is not as it should be, and suspect that the testator must have made a mistake or been unduly influenced, then you may want to challenge the will. Contested wills are legal actions, so you should make sure that you have a competent Tarrytown probate lawyer assisting you in any such endeavor.
How your Tarrytown probate lawyer can help with will contests
That attorney can go over the facts with you and will help you to determine whether you have a legitimate reason for contesting the document. Remember, you cannot challenge a will just because you don’t like its terms. To have any chance of success, you need to demonstrate that the will’s execution was improper. This can include a failure to meet the legal signature or witnessing requirements.
You can also establish that the testator was unduly influenced or tricked into signing the will, thinking that it was something else. Another option is establishing that the testator lacked the mental capacity to understand what he was doing, did not know who his beneficiaries were, or otherwise failed to grasp the consequences of the will’s creation.
As you might imagine, some of these reasons for contesting a will are more difficult to prove than others. An experienced Tarrytown probate lawyer can help you to sort through the facts and determine whether you truly have grounds to issue the challenge.
If you have questions regarding probate or any other estate planning matters, please contact the experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Mary A. Miller, P.C. for a consultation. You can contact us either online or by calling us at (914) 939-6565. We are here to help!