Our New York elder law estate planning attorneys are proud of our work as counselors at law, acting as trusted advisors for the clients who count on us. In this capacity we spend each day meeting with community members to understand their family dynamics and listening to their concerns and fears about the planning process. By familiarizing ourselves with the unique circumstances of each client we are able to anticipate possible challenges to their plan and ensure that all the bases are covered ahead of time. In this way we can use our knowledge and experience to help clients pass on their assets and protect those assets in a seamless manner that avoids legal challenges and court proceedings.
The use of trusts is one of the key ways that our New York estate plans help clients stay out of the courtroom. Unlike wills, trusts do not require court proceedings to settle, both in this state and in other states where property might be owned. Avoiding probate saves the time, stress, and high costs of the legal proceeding.
Besides avoiding probate, our New York estate planning attorneys work hard to craft plans that cannot be successfully challenged by those who may be upset by client decisions. This is where taking the time to understand the family dynamics of each client is essential. It is important to anticipate ahead of time individuals that might have hurt feelings because of the details of a plan or become disgruntled upon learning of a client’s decision regarding their assets. Unfortunately, family disagreements arise frequently in these situations, often leading some upset individuals to challenge the legality of the plan in an effort to overturn it.
In fact, sometimes involved parties outside the family can seek to legally challenge these decisions upon a death. For example, a New York Post story this weekend explained how a landlord is challenging the inheritance of a rent-controlled apartment in the city’s West Village. The landlord claims that a 63-year old woman should not be able to inherit the unit from her 83-year old husband, because the landlord believes she married the man specifically to acquire the low-rent apartment. The landlord’s legal complaint alleges that widow used “gamesmanship, seduction, and artifice” to get the man to marry her only one month before his death. The landlord also claims that the deceased was “out of it” at the end of his life and did not have the capacity to enter into the marriage and pass on the apartment.
Attacking one’s mental capacity is a common technique used by those challenging inheritance and other decisions with which they do not approve. Having the professional assistance of a New York estate planning attorney is one way to ensure that these types of challenges are protected against. Without aid in these actions, many families set themselves up for costly, stressful, and time-consuming legal battles that could otherwise have been avoided.
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