Jules Martin Haas

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After the death of a decedent, a proceeding may be commenced to probate a Last Will and Testament.  Probate proceedings are filed in Surrogate’s Court in the county where the decedent resided. Various individuals may want to contest the Will.  Most commonly, objectants are the decedent’s distributees or next of kin who feel that the Will is invalid for one reason or another.  Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) Section 1410 entitled “Who may file…
Time after time, estate executors and administrators seem to be confronted by a common problem – the sale of estate realty occupied by a family member.  The duty or obligation of the estate fiduciary is to collect and protect the estate assets and satisfy the decedent’s debts and obligations and finally, to effectuate distribution of estate assets according to the provisions of a Last Will and Testament or the laws of intestacy.  The many facets…
Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law provides the procedures and requirements regarding guardianship of an incapacitated person.  The statute allows for the appointment of a guardian for property management and for personal needs.  Whether or not a person requires a guardian is determined by the Court after a hearing.  One of central inquiries when determining incapacity is the extent to which the alleged incapacitated person can perform activities of daily living such as caring…
The settlement of an estate typically focuses on the protection and collection of estate assets.  These assets may include bank accounts, retirement funds and other financial holdings.  However, the major asset in most estates is an interest in real estate.  Real estate may be in the form of a single family home, a multi-family residential building, commercial property or even a condominium unit.  While a cooperative apartment is not real property, since the interest is…
The surviving spouse of a decedent is afforded numerous post-death rights.  At the most basic level, where the decedent did not have a Last Will and Testament, pursuant to Estates Powers and Trusts Law Section 4-1.1, the surviving spouse is entitled to be paid the entire intestate estate or at least the first $50,000.00 of the intestate estate along with fifty percent (50%) of any sums in excess of such amount when there are…
In situations where a decedent does not leave a Last Will and Testament, the Court must be satisfied that it has received complete kinship information.  This is because both the appointment of the estate administrator and the ultimate distribution of estate assets are based upon identifying the decedent’s next of kin or distributees. Most of the time, it will not be difficult to certify the identities of the decedent’s distributees.  There may be a…
During the course of estate administration, the beneficiaries of an estate may need to wait many months or even years before their beneficial interests are paid.  In many instances a lengthy delay may cause a hardship to a beneficiary, especially when the beneficiary was dependent upon the decedent for support or the decedent’s death impacted the financial stability of the beneficiary. In many cases of estate administration, the executor or administrator or preliminary appointee…
The executors and administrators of a New York estate have a fiduciary responsibility to collect and protect estate assets.  In the event these fiduciaries fail to act in a responsible manner, the administrator or executor’s malfeasance would constitute a breach of fiduciary duty. When a situation arises where it appears a third party is withholding assets that belong to a decedent’s estate, it is the responsibility of the fiduciary to pursue the recovery of…
It is an important role of estate planning to prepare a Last Will and Testament.  This document allows a testator to set forth in various provisions his desires as to the disposition of his estate.  Once a Will is admitted to probate, the terms become validated and the testator’s estate plan is effectuated.  It is then subject to being finalized by the executor settling the estate. As has been discussed in a number of articles…
Estate planning in New York involves the preparation of different documents.  These include a Last Will and Testament, Living Will, Living Trust, Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy.  All of these papers have terms and language which should be clear and specific so that the writer’s intentions are precisely spelled out. In particular, a Will can have numerous provisions that involve descriptions of property being disposed of and identification of beneficiaries who are…