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Estate Litigation


The best estate plans do not always succeed. Your elderly spouse's new will leaves everything to the home health care aide. Your mother promised you that her will would provide for you. It did, but then it was changed while she was suffering from dementia and the new beneficiary is the mailman. The trustee of your trust likes to invest in a speculative stock in his cousin’s failing start-up company.
It does not always work out the way you were told, does it? Sometimes, despite the most painstaking planning by highly qualified professionals—and more often, because of the lack of it—people find that their rights to money and property may be challenged.
Greedy relatives may seek to thwart, at the expense of an intended beneficiary, the intentions of those who created the estate plan. Trusted fiduciaries prove untrustworthy. Or, possibly, you have been appointed an executor or trustee and the beneficiaries are making all kinds of unreasonable demands of you. Perhaps your present attorney may be with the best firm in town, but a conflict of interest may prevent that firm from suing the financial institution that mismanaged your trust.
Should you find yourself in any of these situations, the earlier you retain an experienced litigator, whose loyalty is only to you, the better. And the more likely that your trust and estate litigation and will contest battles can be handled appropriately.

Our Estate Litigation Practice

Our legal team's primary focus is New York estate litigation and administration, including will contests, probate litigation, inheritance disputes, trust litigation, and Surrogate's Court cases involving beneficiaries, claimants, executors, and trustees. We will handle matters in New York City area courts, including those in Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Westchester, and Nassau counties, for clients worldwide.

Our approach to New York trust and estate litigation and will contests is to offer large-firm quality, small-firm attentiveness, and cost-conscious representation. We strive to provide "Concierge-Level Service" to our trust and estate litigation clients because we understand the grief, stress, conflict, fear, uncertainty, and outrage that many of them experience. They need an attorney who is both a strong, experienced courtroom advocate and a caring, compassionate human being. That combination of qualities has become the hallmark of our trust and estatelitigation practice.  Where appropriate, and upon client request, we offer a multidisciplinary collaborative approach, working with a psychologist, family business succession expert, and professionals from our firm to defuse and resolve estate controversies before they explode into costly, protracted litigation.

We are dedicated to providing you with the high-quality representation you expect from a larger firm, but with the personal touch and flexibility of a smaller firm. We are committed to combining high quality assistance with hands-on attention. Effective solutions for sophisticated legal issues. We draw upon our experience to provide creative solutions tailored to your specific needs—whether in person, in court, or through alternate measures, such as mediation or arbitration. Client-centered, cost-conscious representation. We strive to provide a good value while also doing what’s best for our clients. We tailor our legal services to meet your needs. Our goal is to get the job done, effectively and efficiently.

When You Need An Estate Litigator, Not An Estate Planner

The Jack of All Trades is usually a master of none. An effective tax and estate planner focuses his knowledge and experience in his particular field; we do too.  We do not draft wills, create trusts, or prepare tax returns.  Our focus is on the litigation of trust, estate, and tax matters.

We have handled contested estate matters in the New York, Westchester, and Queens County Surrogate’s Courts and in New York State Supreme Court.  Our practice covers will contests, estate litigation, and a broad spectrum of related financial disputes.  We provide sophisticated representation to heirs, spouses, next of kin, trustees, executors, fiduciaries, estate representatives, beneficiaries, and businesses.

We specialize in resolving controversies through consultation, intensive factual analysis, negotiation, and alternate dispute resolution such as mediation or arbitration.  However, if it the situation warrants, we have the expertise for courtroom litigation and trials.  In highly contentious situations, having a respected, formidable, and experienced trusts and estates litigator on your side of the negotiating table may be the key to achieving a fair settlement without costly courtroom battles. 

Large Estates, Reasonable Fees

There is an old cartoon that shows a wealthy industrialist standing before the very large window of his well-appointed office.  His two young sons stand on either side of him, also looking out the window.  Outside the window stretch acres of factories, office buildings,  and warehouses—the well-earned results of a long and successful career.  The cartoon's caption has the industrialist saying to his sons: "Take a good look at what I have built, because some day, when Mom and I die, this will all belong to your lawyers!"

It does not have to be that way.  Sometimes estate controversies are unavoidable.  Human nature cannot be changed.  But it does not follow that controversies involving large estates require armies of high-priced lawyers from huge multinational firms.  There is a better way.

Our rates are roughly half of those charged by the mega-firms.  Our practice is focused on trust and estate litigation (it is most of what our firm does).  Our firm can provide knowledgeable counsel and, if required, aggressive courtroom representation through trial.  Our resources include access to top investigators, highly qualified accountants, and leading estate planning professionals for consultation.  We have in-house corporate and tax expertise.  If a larger team is truly needed, we have arrangements with a number of prominent firms and can custom-build the most suitable and economical team to handle your particular case in whatever forum it is or will be pending.

Please contact us to schedule a free initial consultation.  We welcome consulting engagements to assist trust and estate attorneys whose practices do not encompass full-blown litigations.

Our Conflict Resolution Team: A Multidisciplinary Collaborative Approach to Avoiding or Terminating Trust and Estate Controversies

If we didn't like winning trust and estate litigations, we wouldn't be litigators.  But we also like and respect our clients.  Our duty to serve their best interests often dictates that the best course is to settle a dispute and resolve it before it explodes into a pricey, painful, protracted, and public exposure of personal family matters--possibly with an accompanying public relations debacle for a closely-held family business.  Sometimes traditional approaches are inadequate to resolve the dispute.  Even a highly experienced attorney or mediator may find the dispute intractable. He or she may wish that he or she were a psychologist, family business succession expert, and attorney all combined into one person.

We offer our clients the next best thing--our multidisciplinary Conflict Resolution Team that possesses all these skills and is ready to do its best to avoid or terminate troublesome trust and estate litigations.  The team includes not only a highly experienced attorney, but also a noted forensic psychologist (Richard Roth, Ph.D.) and a highly regarded expert on family business succession planning (Richard Raymond). The biographical profiles of Dr. Roth and Mr. Raymond may be found under "Consultants" on this website.”

Estate Administration

Practice Description

Once a loved one passes away, his or her estate can get managed through a court proceeding called estate administration or probate. Through this procedure, debts are paid and assets are properly distributed to beneficiaries by an executor (designated in the will) or an administrator (appointed by the court, possibly a close relative). The person who passed away is known as the "decedent." If the decedent were to pass away with an executed will, testate, the executor’s role, also known as the fiduciary’s role, now begins. If the decedent passed away without an executed will, intestate, an administrator will serve in the role of an executor. The length of the process of probating a will depends on the size and complexity of the estate (generally, the assets and liabilities of the decedent) and, if there is a will, whether there are any issues regarding the authenticity and the legality of the will. The executor or administrator is also required to make a good faith effort to locate all the assets of the decedent and locate all the people who would inherit under the will or the laws applicable to estates where there is no will.

We understand the uniqueness of each case and provide the utmost personalized approaches and strategies to face the needs of you and your family. Our team believes in regular communication and effective counseling to ensure the most resourceful outcome.