Jules Martin Haas

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The filing of a Will Contest with the Surrogate’s Court brings to mind melodramatic stories of family intrigue and deception that are played out in movies, novels and other media outlets.  In reality, Contests regarding a Will in New York are rather common occurrences that are subject to strict statutory and procedural guidelines. When a person dies and leaves a Will, the document must be offered for probate.  This means that the validity of the…
An Article 81 Guardian appointed to safeguard the person and property of an incapacitated person may need to deal with an assortment of issues.  Similar responsibilities are given to the Executors and Administrators of an estate. In particular, the property interests of both an incapacitated person and a decedent’s estate may involve an apartment where the person was residing.  When a person dies, if the apartment was not owned in nature of a co-op or…
The administration of a New York estate requires that the decedent’s assets be identified and collected.  In most cases the marshaling of estate assets is not complicated.  An Executor or Administrator often collects funds from bank accounts, brokerage accounts, retirement accounts and life insurance.  Typically, there are forms to be completed and the asset is paid to the fiduciary. However, today, many assets and the information regarding assets, along with a decedent’s affairs, only exists…
Estate assets may include bank accounts, security investment accounts and retirement funds.  However, real estate ownership typically accounts for the largest value in most estates.  Moreover, due to the many ways that real property may be owned and the lack of attention by owners to title formalities, an estate’s interest in such property may be frought with complexity. Real property in New York can be owned individually or by more than one person as tenants…
There are a number of different ways in which a person can dispose of assets after death.  Creating a Last Will and Testament is a traditional vehicle for a person to transfer his estate to estate beneficiaries.   A Will controls all assets that are owned by a decedent in his individual name at the time of death.  This document can provide details regarding the amounts and the manner of bequests. Another possible estate planning…
When a Last Will and Testament is submitted to the Surrogate’s Court, the document is always reviewed for due execution.  The requirements needed to properly sign a Will are located in Estates, Powers and Trusts Law section 3-2.1 entitled “Execution and attestation of wills; formal requirements”. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published many articles regarding Will execution.  The statute is quite explicit and requires that there be a writing and that there be…
When a person dies and leaves a Last Will and Testament, it is necessary to commence a probate proceeding to have the Will validated.   Probate in New York requires that various documents be filed with the Surrogate’s Court.  The original of the Will needs to be provided along with an original death certificate.   The petitioner is typically the person named as the Executor in the Will.  A Probate Petition is prepared which contains information…
Article 81 of the New York Mental Hygiene Law (MHL) contain the various provisions regarding the appointment of a Guardian for a person who is incapacitated.  The main title of this Article is “Proceedings For Appointment of A Guardian For Personal Needs or Property Management”. The various sections of the statute provide both the procedure and the substantive law regarding Guardianship cases.  As can be seen from the title, the Court can appoint either a…
One of the most valuable assets compromising an estate is real estate.  Typically, a decedent may own a home which he occupied with other individuals or which third parties occupied alone. When the Surrogate’s Courts appoints an Administrator or Executor, the duties of the fiduciary often include securing and selling the real estate.  The real estate may need to be sold to satisfy estate obligations such as a mortgage or credit card bills or…
After a person dies it is usually necessary to enter the decedent’s residence for various purposes.  To begin with, it may be that the home needs to be searched to see if the person left a Last Will and Testament.  Gaining access to the home may not be difficult if the decedent lived with a spouse or other family member.  However, if the decedent lived alone or voluntary access cannot be obtained, then an application…