The estate planning lawyers at Pierro, Connor & Strauss, LLC are here to help

Being involved in litigation can be difficult. These difficulties are only compounded when the issues involve family, friends and time-honored relationships.

Our attorneys provide skilled representation to families, corporations and individual fiduciaries and other parties engaged in trust contests, will contests, accounting actions, trust and will construction actions where the meaning of an instrument or identity of a beneficiary is at issue, reformation suits, as well as a wide range of other fiduciary litigation. We work closely with our clients, explaining each step of the process to inform and counsel them with creative strategies to avoid litigation and guide them through the litigation process if necessary.

We pair the technical knowledge of our Trusts and Estates practitioners with seasoned litigators to provide intelligent and attentive counsel and effective dispute resolution results.

WE CAN ASSIST WITH:

  • Will contests

  • Probate and estate litigation

  • Trust disputes

  • Breach of fiduciary duty claims

  • Breach of buy/sell agreements

  • Business and asset valuation disputes

  • Undue influence claims

  • Challenges to investment decisions and results

  • Cy pres petitions, trust reformation proceedings and complaints for instruction

  • Guardianship issues

  • Actions taken by agents under powers of attorney

  • Removal and surcharge of fiduciaries

  • Disputes involving charitable trusts and foundations

WE WORK WITH:

  • Individuals and families

  • Banks

  • Trust companies

  • Charitable entities

  • Family offices

  • Trust beneficiaries

  • Corporate fiduciaries

  • Trustees and executors

We counsel clients on all aspects of estate disputes, including investigating potential claims, evaluating the merits of bringing a claim, filing or defending a claim, and litigating a claim through trial or settlement.

WILL DISPUTES

Our attorneys have extensive experience in representing clients in challenges to wills – and in defending executors against challenges to wills – on the grounds of undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity of the testator, fraud, and lack of compliance with proper will formalities. We also regularly represent clients in will interpretation disputes.

TRUST DISPUTES

We regularly represent trustees and beneficiaries in disputes involving trusts, including claims of breach of fiduciary duty, failure to inform and report to beneficiaries, violation of prudent investor acts, and trustee removal actions. We have deep experience litigating claims under the EPTL and SCPA.

GUARDIANSHIP DISPUTES

Our attorneys have routinely litigated guardianship matters. As the nation’s population ages, guardianship disputes are becoming increasingly common, particularly because such disputes can at times serve as a precursor to a later will or trust dispute. We regularly counsel family and friends on the best strategic approach to such disputes, and also have extensive experience in asserting and defending against claims of abuse of authority under a power of attorney, in connection with guardianship proceedings. Moreover, we regularly represent guardians in seeking court approval for various estate planning actions.

ELDER LAW DISPUTES

We often counsel families and friends in circumstances involving elder law disputes and the exploitation of elderly persons. We are frequently called on to represent clients in instances of elderly persons being pressured to change their estate planning documents or make gifts, exploitation of elderly persons, and parent-napping.

The Litigation Team

AARON E. CONNOR, ESQ
Managing Partner

CARYN B. KEPPLER, ESQ
Partner

MICHAEL W. GADOMSKI, ESQ
Associate Attorney

PETER J. STRAUSS, ESQ
Senior Partner

Types of Estate Planning Services Covered

  • Wills

  • Powers of Attorney

  • Health Care Proxies

  • Disposition of Remains

  • Living Trust Planning

  • Revocable Trusts

  • Asset Protection

  • Life Insurance

  • Charitable Trusts & more

Estate Planning FAQ’s

No, a Will does not avoid probate. Probate is the process of having the court review your Will, approve your selection of an Executor, and overseeing the distribution of your property.

The most basic plan you can put into place to reduce estate tax is to adopt a Credit Shelter Trust or Bypass Trust Plan. Simply stated, this plan creates a Credit Shelter Trust, also known as a Bypass Trust, in each spouse’s will, to utilize that spouse’s full exemption amount. The surviving spouse has access to the funds in the trust, yet the trust funds are not included in the surviving spouse’s estate on his or her death. For individuals with larger estates, there are many more tax planning opportunities available that we would be happy to discuss with you when you come in for a consultation.

You can make annual gifts to your children and other beneficiaries of $15,000 per individual, without having to file a gift tax return or pay gift tax. This means that a married couple can gift $30,000 to each child and grandchild, annually. You may gift more than $15,000 to an individual, but you will not have to pay gift tax until you have exceeded your lifetime exemption amount. In 2021, the federal gift, estate and generation skipping transfer tax exemptions are set at $11,700,000, indexed for inflation.  This means that a couple can pass wealth of $23,400,000 over their lifetime to their heirs free of federal gift and estate tax in 2021.  New York State does not impose a gift tax but will add gifts made within 3 years of death into the New York State estate tax base.

A Will allows you to decide who is to receive your property when you die, and how much each person is to receive. Your will appoints an Executor, who will oversee everything and distribute your property to the individuals you have named.

If you die without a Will, your property will be distributed to your heirs according to New York intestacy law. If you have a spouse and children, your spouse will receive $50,000 plus one-half of your property and your children will receive the other one-half of your property.

A Disposition of Remains Appointment is a legal document that appoints another individual to make funeral and burial arrangements for you, and contains your wishes with regard to such arrangements.

A Health Care Proxy is a legal document that appoints another individual to make health care decisions for you when you are unable to make them yourself. This document may be combined with a Living Will, which contains your wishes with regard to end of life care.

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that appoints another individual, called your agent, to handle your financial and other matters for you when you are unable to handle them yourself.

A Revocable Living Trust is a trust that you establish during your lifetime. You are the trustee and beneficiary of your own Revocable Living Trust. The primary reason for establishing a Revocable Living Trust is to avoid probate.

A trust is an agreement between you and another individual, called the trustee. The trustee holds the property, manages the property, and makes distributions to the individuals named in the trust, also called the beneficiaries. You can be the trustee and beneficiary of your own trust, or you can name other individuals to be the trustee and beneficiary.

An estate tax or “death tax” will depends on the size of your gross estate and year of death. A filing is required for estates with combined gross assets and prior taxable gifts exceeding $5,430,000 in 2015, with a maximum tax rate of 40%. In 2015, New York State imposes an estate tax on estates worth over $3,125,000, with a maximum tax rate of 16%. If your estate is close to these asset thresholds, Estate Tax Planning may help to reduce, or even eliminate, the tax due upon your death.

Life Happens…..Are You Prepared?

Contact us today for a FREE consultation and well be happy to help take the worry out of tomorrow so you can live today.

Call Us