Wills and Trusts Construction

In New York State, a will or trust only achieves the deceased’s desired result if it sets forth the plan of the deceased clearly and is designed to avoid potential litigation. When the meaning or intent of the deceased’s will or trust is unclear or contradictory, attorneys for the estate may submit the will to the Surrogate’s Court for its interpretation or construction. By working with the probate attorneys at Sweeney, Reich & Bolz LLP to draft your will or trust, individuals can avoid potential pitfalls.

At the law offices of Sweeney, Reich & Bolz LLP, we advise and represent executors, fiduciaries, beneficiaries and other interested parties in will construction matters. With decades of experience handling probate and estate litigation matters, our attorneys are prepared to take on cases that other law firms would reject. Our lawyers have a reputation for aggressive pursuit of the best possible outcome for our clients when seeking to resolve issues arising from will and trust construction.

In our more than two decades handling probate matters for clients in the New York and Long Island area, our attorneys have seen problems that arise when individuals do not have well-drafted wills or trusts. Some of these include the following:

  • Identity of a beneficiary is unclear. This includes individuals whose names were not specified, creating confusion. For example, a will may state that the testator’s nephew was to receive a bequest without naming the nephew. If the testator had more than one nephew, his or her intent-and the name of the nephew- will need to be determined by the Court.
  • All beneficiaries of the will have died, with no contingent beneficiaries named.
  • The named executor, trustee, or guardian has died and there is no successor identified in the will or trust.
  • The assets listed are not specifically described.

These and may other ambiguities in a will or trust document can be resolved by submitting the issue to the Surrogate’s Court. Our attorneys will review the document and determine whether the court is likely to rule in our client’s favor. We will provide the same services relative to trust reformation, a process that is usually required to change a trust to achieve beneficial tax status.

When beneficiaries disagree with the court’s interpretation of the terms of a will or trust, they may be entitled to seek legal action. The attorneys at Sweeney, Reich & Bolz LLP have a successful record of accomplishment in probate litigation, including trust and will contests. We are prepared to take whatever action is required to achieve the best possible results for our clients.