Practice Areas Overview
The law offices of Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C. provides legal assistance to clients throughout the Five Boroughs of New York City, including in Queens Village and in Brooklyn. Our attorneys offer cost-effective legal services in a range of estate planning and domestic relations and family law matters. For assistance in any of the particular areas listed below, contact us today at 718-276-6656 for your free consultation.
- Prenuptial Agreements
- Probating Estates
- Powers of Attorney
- Will Contest Litigation
- Child Custody
- Child Support
Probate is the legal process of transferring property following a person's death. Although the customs and laws surrounding probate have changed over time, the purpose has remained much the same: after an individual formalizes his or her intentions as to the transfer of assets and property (typically through a will), at the time of his or her death that property is collected, certain debts are paid from the estate, and the remaining assets are distributed accordingly.
A divorce decree, dissolution, legal separation, nullity, or other form of terminating a marriage can only be obtained in a court of law. Other than the termination of the marital estate, the court also has jurisdiction to resolve other issues that are intertwined in the existing marriage. These issues may include, but are not limited to: custody and visitation rights, division of property of the marital estate, spousal support, child support, and restraining orders. Previously, under New York’s fault-based divorce law, a spouse was required to establish that the other spouse was at fault for the divorce; the State of New York now allows for “no-fault” divorce, or divorce on the ground that the marriage has been irretrievably broken for six months.
A prenuptial, or premarital agreement (often referred to as a "pre-nup"), is a written contract created by two individuals who plan to marry. This agreement lists all individually-owned property, such as homes, businesses, family assets, stocks and bonds, and savings accounts, as well as any debts, and specifies what will and will not remain individually-owned property after the legalization of marriage. Prenuptial agreements also set forth intentions regarding distribution of individually-owned property upon death, and specify whether spousal support, also known as alimony, will be paid in the event of a divorce. Child support arrangements, however, cannot be stipulated in a prenuptial agreement.
A will is a written instrument containing directions as to how the assets and property of the individual creating the will (sometimes referred to as the "testator") shall be divided upon his or her death. Wills can also contain instructions regarding the care of minor children, gifts to charity, and the formation of posthumous trusts. In order for a will to be legally valid, the testator must sign the will in the presence of two witnesses, and he or she must be mentally competent and not acting under duress or the controlling influence of another.
Estates are categorized as probate or non-probate property. Probate property is property that is transferred by the provisions of a will or by the laws of intestate succession, while non-probate property is property that is either jointly held and passes by right of survivorship, directed by beneficiary designation such as an IRA or a life insurance policy, or passes according to the terms of a trust.
Powers of Attorney
When a person becomes incapacitated, the government or the court often steps in and appoints someone to represent and make legal decisions for the incapacitated person. One of the ways to avoid government or court intervention, and the appointment of a stranger to act as your guardian, is to use a Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney is a written document that can either be limited in scope, or can allow one person to give another the full power and authority to represent him or her. There are two types of Power of Attorneys, one covering assets and another covering health care decisions.
Will Contest Litigation
A will contest is a type of litigation that challenges the admission of a will to probate. Issues that are likely to spur the contesting of a will include allegations that:
- The testator lacked mental capacity, i.e. was senile, delusional, or of unsound mind at the time the documents were created;
- The testator was subjected to fraud, coercion, or undue influence during its creation and implementation;
- There are ambiguities in the document; or,
- The will is a forgery or does not conform to legal requirements as to the number and nature of the witnesses.
Custody refers to the charge and control of a child, including the right to make all major decisions such as education, religious upbringing, training, health, and welfare. Custody usually refers to a combination of physical custody and legal custody. Many factors influence an award of custody, and the way a case is presented in court can have a significant impact on the result for you and your children. If you are awarded the children as a primary custodial parent, this result will have far-reaching consequences both on you and their well-being and development.
Child support is a periodic payment made to a custodial parent from a non-custodial parent to help compensate for a child's living expenses, i.e. food, clothes, etc., and any other related debts. When one parent is awarded sole custody, as in the event of a divorce, the non-custodial parent is required to fulfill his or her child support obligation by making regular payments, whereas the custodial parent meets his or her support obligation through the custody itself. When parents are awarded joint custody in a divorce, however, the support obligation is shared and based on a ratio of each parent's income and the amount of time the child spends with each parent.
The obligation to support minor children is a right enjoyed by the child, not the parent, and cannot be waived. Statutory guidelines determine the amount of child support that is awarded based on a number of factors, such as the amount of time spent with the child, the income of both parents, and the standard of living the child is accustomed to. The court may allow deductions for items such as catastrophic medical expenses and travel expenses for visitation.
Recent changes to immigration law have made it increasingly difficult and complicated for individuals to obtain the necessary visas and permits to work, live, and immigrate to the United States. At Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C., we assist clients across the Five Boroughs with immigration and naturalization matters, including family and employment-based visas.
Our attorneys have represented landlords throughout the New York City area in a range of disputes with tenants. We assist landlords with rent collection and represent landlords in evictions. To learn more about our work in this area, contact us today at 718-276-6656 for a free consultation.