As an experienced NY will contest lawyer with two decades of experience successfully contesting NY attorney drafted wills I can say the answer is yes. However, I must also warn you that the business of contesting NY wills is one of the most difficult tasks in all of law. Having set aside more than a dozen NY wills as a NY will contest lawyer I have come to understand and appreciate the anatomy of a successful NY will contest when I see one.
Before an individual may contest a NY will they must first establish something called standing. This means the individual must either be a distributee, someone entitled to inherit from the decedent’s NY estate absent the current NY will, or someone who was named in a prior NY will and was adversely affected by this later one.
Once standing is established your NY will contest lawyer may proceed with SCPA 1404 examinations of the attesting witnesses and the taking of testimony from the NY estate lawyer who drafted the NY will. During these examinations your NY estate lawyer will be looking for testimony to support any grounds to object to the NY will such as lack of due execution, lack of testamentary capacity or the existence of undue influence. Once completed your NY will contest lawyer will have ten days to file verified objections to the probate of the NY will on your behalf.
Estate of Pearson
On March 1, 2021, the body of 62 year old pawn broker Jimmy Pearson who is depicted at the top of this article, was found in a pool of blood within his expansive multi-million dollar home. Pearson who owned several successful pawn shops leaves behind two daughters and an estate valued in excess of $10 million dollars. The cause of Pearson’s death was a gunshot wound to his head fired by local prostitute, Natasha Tate also depicted above, whom Pearson frequently enlisted the company of. Court documents show that Ms. Tate would often steal jewelry form Pearson’s home during her visits but had become enraged to learn that rather than valuable jewels, she was in fact stealing worthless trinkets otherwise known as costume jewelry. On the evening of March 1, 2021, Tate admittedly shot Pearson in the head and is currently serving a life sentence for the murder.
Surprisingly what happened after Pearson’s murder was even more astonishing. A copy of Pearson’s 2020 will was submitted to the Surrogate’s Court shortly after the shooting. The document completely disinherits Pearson’s two daughter’s from his entire $10 million dollar estate completely contradicting Pearson’s 2018 will leaving everything to his same two daughters. Even more shocking, was the fact Jimmy Pearson’s later 2020 will leaves his entire $10 million estate to his two lawyers. As you can imagine, Pearson’s two daughters were in both shock and incensed by their father’s subsequent will disinheriting each of them. Pearson’s two daughters Tawnya and Sarah each retained will contest estate lawyers to challenge their father’s 2020 will as the product of undue influence practiced upon him by his longtime attorneys who were now the sole beneficiaries of his bounty.
To make matters even stranger, one of Pearson’s estate lawyers, John Haub, who was now listed as a beneficiary of half of Pearson’s $10 million estate had once been a Federal Prosecutor who had convicted Jimmy Pearson of selling marijuana in the early 1990’s. As a result of Haub’s prosecution, Jimmy Pearson served four years in a federal penitentiary for his crime.
After ten (10) months of estate litigation Jimmy Pearson’s estate lawyers settled the litigation with Pearson’s daughters. In the end all the parties agreed that the two estate lawyers would each receive $75,000.00 with the remainder of the Pearson Estate distributed to each of Pearson’s daughters with a small portion placed in trust for their children.
Any NY estate lawyer knows that pursuant to Matter of Putnam, 257 NY 140 (1stDept. 1931) “Attorneys for clients who intend to leave them or their families a bequest would do well to have the will drafted by some other NY estate lawyer”. By doing so any suspicion which may arise of improper influence used under the cover of the confidential relationship may be avoided. The law, recognizing the delicacy of the situation, requires the lawyer who drafts himself a bequest to explain the circumstances and to show in the first instance that the gift was freely and willingly made. Here it appears the estate lawyers for Jimmy Pearson, one of whom had previously convicted him of a felony, could not escape the appearance of impropriety that is derived from their confidential relationships as Pearson’s attorneys.
If you or a family member have any questions it never hurts to ask the opinion of an experienced NY will contest lawyer to see if it amounts to undue influence or fraud. Feel free to call the NYC will contest lawyers at The Law Offices of Jason W. Stern & Associates for a free consultation at (718) 261-2444. Our NYC estate lawyers have more than 60 years of combined NY estate law experience drafting and probating the wills for families like yours in the counties of Queens, New York, Kings, Bronx, Westchester, Rockland, Nassau, Orange and Dutchess.