Distribution Disputes

Unfortunately beneficiaries of a New York decedent’s estate may not always agree on how the assets of a loved one should be disposed or distributed despite the fact that the decedent left a will or trust. A provision in a will or trust might be vague thereby causing disagreements and confusion amongst the family members. Or the beneficiaries and the personal representative might not get along.

The personal representative of the estate has a duty to the beneficiaries to act in, trustworthy, prudent, loyal and reasonable manner and to avoid making bad business decisions that may cause financial losses to the estate or the beneficiaries. So while it is primarily the personal representative’s responsibility to decide how to dispose of assets so they can be distributed to the beneficiaries, many times the personal representative may need the input of the beneficiaries and/or legal advice regarding a final estate distribution decision to avoid a will contest or estate litigation suit later.

Since estate distributions are subject to court approval, the personal representative will usually hire a New York estate lawyer to help settle any disputes and distribution disagreements amongst the beneficiaries and/or the personal representative to make sure that the distributions are handled in a proper and legal manner under NYS law and to facilitate court approval.

Here are examples of the types of common distribution disagreements that may arise during the administration of an estate regarding the following assets:

Decisions to sell or keep an asset such as real estate. It is quite common for arguments to erupt amongst beneficiaries when it comes to selling the family house or business. For instance, you and your sister might not want to sell the family house where you grew up because you plan on vacationing there with your children, but your brother might want to sell it because he lives in California and would rather have the cash from the sale to buy a vacation property closer to where he and his family reside.

Jewelry, household furnishings, antiques, and other collectives such as artwork can be the source of family feuds over who gets what. You might want to keep your mom’s diamond wedding ring, but your other siblings might want to sell it and use the cash to pay towards their children’s college tuition. Or there may be disagreements about the value of artwork requiring a professional art appraiser to give an opinion on the value.

Intellectual property such as patents, music royalties and copyrights. The value of unknown assets can also cause disputes among family members.

New York Estate Distribution Attorney Assistance

If you are involved in an estate distribution disagreement, it is recommended that you consult with a NYC probate attorney to help resolve the matter. The attorney can also recommend other professionals such as property appraisers, auction companies and a Realtor to help with determining the value of the estate assets. Mike St.Pre, a leading probate & estate lawyer in Tri-State area, can also represent the estate, beneficiaries or other interested parties regarding other probate and estate matters.