ESTATE LITIGATION
Guardianship / Mental Hygiene Law Article 81 Proceedings

When a loved one is unable to make decisions for himself or herself, a previously-appointed agent under a valid durable general power of attorney and/or health care proxy can assist him or her to make important financial and/or health decisions.  If, however, a person has not appointed an agent, or if the advance directives are not sufficiently broad, it may be necessary to commence a guardianship proceeding pursuant to NY Mental Hygiene Law Article 81.  There are instances where a person is clearly incapacitated and in need of a guardian - but very often, it is not that simple.  The attorneys at Santiago Burger LLP have experience initiating, as well as defending against, guardianship proceedings. 

Power of Attorney Misuse / Breach of Fiduciary Duty

An agent appointed under a power of attorney has an overriding obligation to act in the best interests, and in accordance with the wishes, of the principal who has appointed him or her.  There is no guarantee that an agent will do so and all too common is the case where the principal, or a family member or friend of the principal, finds that his or her agent has misused the power of attorney to misappropriate funds, change beneficiary designations or engage in other actions which result in financial harm and/or the agent's self enrichment.  If you suspect that you or someone you love is being exploited, we can help you to unmask a rogue fiduciary and seek redress for his or her actions.

Will Contests / Will Defense

Lack of testamentary capacity. Undue Influence. Fraud.  Lack of Due Execution.

These are just some of the legal grounds upon which a will contest may be based.  Will contests often involve the allegation of a serious breach of trust.  At Santiago Burger LLP, we assist our clients by counseling them on the probate process and the strategic and legal considerations involved when deciding whether to seek invalidation of a last will and testament.  We are also often brought in as trial counsel for an estate or trust its general counsel when a dispute seems imminent.  Working with general counsel, we can help set the stage for a fight.  We can also help avoid a fight and costly litigation altogether.

Accounting Proceedings / Fiduciary Litigation

The attorneys at Santiago Burger have experience assisting individual and institutional fiduciaries of trusts and estate defend their actions on behalf of the estate or trust and to protect the decedent's assets and final wishes from attack.  Where a fiduciary has improperly managed assets or fails to account, we represent beneficiaries, legatees, distributees, heirs and remaindermen evaluate and prosecute their claims.  Trusts and estates have many of the legal rights and responsibilities of individuals.  Claims by or against a trust or estate must be timely presented in the proper form if the creditor wishes to seek payment.  Similarly, claims must be defended within the proper time frame if the fiduciary wishes to avoid personal liability.

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