Cona Elder Law



New York Estate Litigation Attorneys

When conflicts arise in the administration of an estate or trust, Cona Elder Law’s knowledgeable and respected estate litigation attorneys have decades of experience across Long Island and New York City representing clients in will contests, trust contests, contested accountings, breach of fiduciary duties, spousal right of election, beneficiary rights and other fiduciary litigation matters.

Our dedicated probate litigators take care to learn and understand your specific needs and goals. We recognize the financial and emotional issues involved in estate administration and litigation and have your best interests always at the forefront, whether that is reaching an early and amicable settlement or zealously advocating in Surrogate’s Court.

What is Estate Litigation?

Estate litigation encompasses will contests, trust contests, breach of fiduciary duties, contested accountings, self-dealing, conflicts of interest and more. For example, a Will can be challenged on the grounds of lack of capacity, undue influence, improper execution, or forgery. Litigation can also ensue when a family member is disinherited, when beneficiaries are treated unequally, where a confidential relationship exists, or when a spouse is disinherited (spousal right of election).  Additional breaches of fiduciary duty include improper use of a Power of Attorney, fraudulent asset transfers, misconduct, mismanagement, misappropriation of funds, fraud, and negligence, which can lead to discovery and turnover proceedings. 

When Do You Need an Estate and Trust Litigation Attorney?

An estate and trust litigation attorney is necessary when a dispute arises regarding the validity of a Will or Trust or the actions of a trustee or executor. A legal challenge may be brought based on allegations of fraud, forgery, incapacity, coercion or breach of trust by the executor or trustee.

The best way to avoid estate litigation is by ensuring you and your loved ones have a comprehensive, proper and updated estate plan, including a WillTrustPower of AttorneyHealth Care Proxy and Living Will.

How our estate litigation lawyers can help you:

The experienced estate litigation lawyers at Cona Elder Law are well-versed in estate planning, probate, estate administration and litigation, including the Surrogate’s Court practices and procedures.

Our thorough knowledge base inures to our clients’ benefit as we have been providing best-in-class legal representation to families like yours in New York over the past two decades.

Our New York Estate Litigation Services

At Cona Elder Law, we have over two decades of experience advocating for our clients in probate court regarding trust disputes, breach of fiduciary duties, elder abuse, creditor claims, real estate disputes and other estate litigation matters. We get to know you and your specific goals so that we can provide the solutions you are looking for in a cost-effective manner. 

Fiduciary Litigation

A fiduciary is an appointed person who holds a position of trust and responsibility. Fiduciaries, including executors, administrators of an estate, trustees, and agents under a Power of Attorney, to name a few, owe a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the estate, trust or principal who executed the Power of Attorney. When a fiduciary allegedly acts inappropriately and breaches his or her fiduciary duties, litigation often ensues. This can be the result of mismanagement of funds, misappropriation of assets, failure to follow the terms of a Will, or failure to account for assets. The type of breach will determine the type of litigation and the remedy pursued. In this complex area of law, you need the experienced and dedicated estate litigation attorneys at Cona Elder Law on your side to ensure you are protected. 

Will Contests

You may not like the terms of a Will or the terms may be different than what you expected or were promised but that alone will not allow for a Will to be overturned. There are very specific grounds for challenging the validity of a Will, each of which can be difficult to prove in probate court litigation. Some of the reasons for challenging a Will include lack of testamentary capacity, improper Will execution, undue influence, fraud, or discovery of a subsequent Will.

Accounting Contests

Estate proceedings require fiduciaries to file accountings with the court. A beneficiary of an estate or trust may require the fiduciary to file a formal accounting if the beneficiary is concerned that assets were mishandled by the fiduciary or there are questions about the administration of the estate or trust.

At Cona Elder Law, our dedicated estate administration and estate litigation attorneys have over two decades of experience representing beneficiaries requesting accountings and defending fiduciaries in accounting contests. We petition the court on behalf of beneficiaries who desire an accounting, and we prepare accountings for fiduciaries who are required to submit them to the court. When litigation ensues, our probate litigators are prepared to question or defend fiduciaries and their accountings.

Beneficiary Rights

Beneficiaries of an estate or trust have certain rights and can enforce those rights in court when necessary. For example, a beneficiary has the right to be informed regarding the assets, a right to receive the proper share to which they are entitled, to receive a complete inventory of the estate or trust, and to receive a prompt distribution of their share.

If you believe your share of the trust or estate has been compromised or information in the accounting is missing or inaccurate, be aware that there is a statute of limitations.

 Contact the experienced attorneys at Cona Elder Law right away to protect your rights.

Trust Contests

As with a Will, a decedent’s heirs and beneficiaries of a trust can seek to invalidate a trust based on specific grounds.  

Grounds for overturning a trust agreement include fraud, incapacity, forgery, and undue influence. If a trust contest is successful, the trust will be void and unenforceable. Similar to a Will contest and probate matters, the Surrogate’s Court has jurisdiction over trust litigation.

Spousal Contests and Right of Election

New York State law protects surviving spouses from being disinherited or from being left only a nominal amount of money. As such, spouses cannot disinherit one another, even if that is what their Wills state. This is called a spousal right of election.

Under New York’s law, a surviving spouse is entitled to $50,000 or one-third of the decedent’s estate, whichever is greater. To receive these assets, however, a claim must be filed timely. 

It is imperative to contact the knowledgeable estate litigation lawyers at Cona Elder Law to safeguard your right to receive your elective share.

Work with Our Trusted Long Island Elder Law Attorneys

Facing the death of a loved one is always traumatic. Facing estate and trust litigation is the last thing a family needs in a time of grieving. Our dedicated and compassionate estate administration attorneys understand this but, at the same time, as trust and estate litigators, we will zealously fight for your rights in court when necessary. Our two decades of probate, administration and litigation have taught us how to balance empathy, savvy and moxie with cost-effective solutions to bring you and your family top-notch estate litigation representation.

Contact us at Cona Elder Law to secure the skilled Long Island elder law attorneys you deserve. 

New York Estate Litigation FAQs

Estate litigation in New York is complicated and complex, with many different types of causes of action, court proceedings, burdens of proof and statutes of limitations. In this highly specialized area of law, it is imperative that you work with an experienced trust and estate litigation team like the probate and estate litigation attorneys at Cona Elder Law. 

What Does an Estate Litigation Lawyer Do?

An estate litigation lawyer represents the interests of heirs and beneficiaries of a Will or trust to ensure they receive their proper inheritance and represents executors and trustees by bringing or defending them from claims regarding their fiduciary duties. Probate litigation often involves seeking the return of property and funds and may involve claims of incapacity, undue influence, and fraud. These are difficult issues to prove, especially because the main party has passed away, and therefore a very skilled and experienced estate litigator is required to navigate the court proceedings. 

How Do You Handle an Estate Dispute in New York?

To initiate an estate dispute in New York, the plaintiff files a motion in the Surrogate’s Court. The type of court proceeding you bring will depend on the underlying claim you have. For example, a will contest has a different set of rules and procedures than a spousal right of election claim or a judicial accounting proceeding. The manner in which you prove your claim will also differ, as will the statute of limitations.

Is a Litigator the Same as a Lawyer?

No, a litigator is not the same as a lawyer. A litigator, sometimes referred to as a trial attorney, is a type of lawyer who regularly appears in court and who handles civil (non-criminal) disputes. The litigation process includes investigation, depositions, discovery, trial, settlements and appeals. In addition, an estate planning attorney is different from an estate litigation attorney. Estate planning attorneys create estate plans, draft wills and trusts, but typically do not get involved in will contests, fiduciary litigation, trust contests or other court proceedings. Only an experienced probate and estate litigator handles estate litigation and can navigate these court proceedings. 

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