We have answered many of the common, and not so common questions we’ve been asked over the years about Probate, Trusts, Wills and other Estate Planning matters….right here on this website.

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Understanding Testamentary Capacity

Many people assume that because their loved one has mental issues that it meant that they would not have the capability to sign a will. This would be a reasonable assumption considering that one must have a certain amount of mental capacity to sign other legal documents, such as contracts, and would not be able to sign if under guardianship or the victim of dementia. If you have questions about the testamentary capacity of any of your loved ones, calling an experienced Long Island estate attorney is the best way to determine if your case is a strong one.

The following elements are needed for mental capacity:

1. The testator must know they are signing a will and what a will is,
2. The testator must understand the nature and value of their property and
3. The testator must understand who the “objects of his or her bounty” are.

The first part of this test is pretty self-explanatory. Either a person knows what a will is and what it does or they don’t.

As for the second part of the test, a person does not have to know the exact amount of his or her estate and each and every item owned. They do, however, have to have a general idea what their estate is made up of. For example, if there is a family home, they need to know that part of the estate is a family home. However, they also have to know what is not in the estate. An example of this would be believing their bank account had millions of dollars in it when it never did and there was no basis in thinking it would.

The “objects of one’s bounty” requirement means that the testator must recognize who their heirs are. This doesn’t mean that they have to fully know their family tree, but they should know who their spouse, children and close grandchildren. The testator needs to also recognize who is not their family, such as friends or people who bear no blood relationship or other relationship to them at all.

Someone can still have testamentary capacity when they have a guardian who is in charge of handling all of their other legal matters for them and a will signed by them is valid as long as it meets the criteria above. Additionally, someone can have a diagnosis such as Alzheimer’s and still be able to sign a legal will.

If you are involved in an estate case where mental capacity is at issue, call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (516) 565-7785.


What is Considered Undue Influence in a Long Island Will?

April 15, 2015

A common objection to a will is that someone used undue influence to get the person who died on Long Island to change their will so that it no longer reflected how they wanted their estate be divided after their death. Undue influence, while a common objection, is also one that is challenging to prove […]

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Can a Trust on Long Island be Terminated or Changed?

April 3, 2015

Are the Terms of a Long Island Trust Permanent? If you are setting up a trust, are a trustee or are a beneficiary of a trust, you may need to know if the trust that you have set up can be modified in some way or cancelled. The answer is not a simple one, and […]

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2015 Long Island Update on Changes to New York Estate Tax Laws

March 25, 2015

New York is one of the few states with an estate tax system that is stricter than the Federal system and, last year, new laws were passed to try and change this. There are some parts of the law that work better for the majority of those who have high-value estates, but for those with […]

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How Can I Use a Supplemental Needs Trust To Get Medicaid on Long Island

February 26, 2015

Allowing for Payment for Expenses While on Government Assistance When dealing with a seriously disabled person, how you handle that person’s finances can be essential when it comes to dealing with government benefits. Too many assets, and a person can either be denied benefits in the first place or end up having them taken away. […]

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What Happens if There Aren’t Enough Assets in a Long Island Estate?

February 14, 2015

Who Gets Paid First When There Isn’t Enough Money To Pay Everyone It is not uncommon when someone dies that the estate ends up owing more than the estate actually has in assets. Many times, people end up wracking up large medical bills in their final days, or they may end up spending most of […]

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Do I Need An Attorney To Make A Will On Long Island?

February 2, 2015

Could Doing Your Own Will Cost Your Beneficiaries? If you look up estate planning online, you can find almost countless resources on all of the ways that you can write your own will in order to save yourself some legal fees. The parties behind these resources try to convince the customer that DIY when it […]

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Appealing a Surrogate’s Court Judgment on Long Island

January 20, 2015

How to Move Forward When You Disagree With the Court’s Decision Appeals are relatively common in all areas of the law because they offer a party to a legal matter to have another court review a decision to make sure that it is proper. On Long Island, Surrogate’s Court decisions, like all court decisions in Nassau […]

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When Does a Long Island Attorney Charge a Contingency Fee?

January 9, 2015

Understanding Fees in Estate Cases Contingency fees are they type of legal fee where the attorney agrees to take a percentage of the total amount won in a legal claim. If the case isn’t won, the attorney would not collect any fee at all, despite having worked on it. Contingency fees are the type of […]

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What Are The Duties of a Long Island Guardian?

January 2, 2015

Know What the Guardian’s Obligations are on Long Island Having to petition the court in either Nassau or Suffolk County to be appointed Guardian over an adult loved one can be emotionally taxing. The legal procedure itself can be complicated, meaning that to make sure that you get the outcome you need, hiring a Long […]

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