Ilene Sherwyn Cooper

Estate Litigation

Partner | 516-227-0736 | icooper@farrellfritz.com

LOCATION: Uniondale

Ilene Sherwyn Cooper is an estate litigator practicing in Surrogate’s Courts throughout New York and the author of several legislative amendments affecting the laws of inheritance in New York. She has extensive experience administering decedents’ estates, drafting and executing wills and trust instruments, powers of attorney, healthcare proxies and living wills. Previously, she worked as a Principal Law Assistant/Referee for the Surrogate of Suffolk County, Hon. Ernest L. Signorelli.

Ilene has held leadership roles with many state and local professional and community organizations. This includes serving as chair of the New York State Bar Association’s 5,000+ member Trust and Estates Law Section, as a member of the New York State Bar Association’s House of Delegates, as president of the Suffolk County Bar Association, and as a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Council (ACTEC). She is also an adjunct professor at Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, where she has been recognized as Adjunct Professor of the Year multiple times. Ilene published the textbook Wills, Trusts and Estates – Essential Tools for the New York Paralegal and is a columnist on trusts and estates practice for the New York Law Journal and an editor of Warren’s Heaton on Surrogate’s Court Practice.

Ilene drafted an amendment to EPTL 5-3.2, increasing inheritance rights of nonmarital children; co-drafted with members of the NYSBA’s Trust and Estates Law Section an amendment to SCPA 2307-a dealing with attorney-fiduciaries; and was instrumental in initiating and spearheading an amendment to SPCA 2211, which provides for discovery prior to the filing of objections in contested accounting proceedings. Ilene also drafted the legislation that disqualifies abusive parents whose rights have been terminated under Social Services Law from receiving an inheritance from the abused child’s estate.

What sets Farrell Fritz apart from other firms?

The sophistication of the work is top notch. But equally as important, the community here is very collegial; it is a nice atmosphere in which to work. There is no sense of competition within the ranks. Everyone is here to help each other do an excellent job on behalf of our clients.

“As a litigator, it is letting your client know that you are there to stand behind them. I counsel clients along the way, help them understand the process and keep them aware of what is happening. I am sensitive to the fact that clients are involved in something that is very unpleasant and very costly, and that creates the framework for a very difficult time for anybody.”

You donate so much time to community organizations, particularly those for women and children. Why are those so important to you?

I consider children to be the most vulnerable group in our society. I have been involved with children’s issues for a long time. What got me started was the tragic child abuse case of Lisa Steinberg in the 1980s. It was heartbreaking; I had to do something. I held a continuing education program at Franklin General Hospital for the nursing staff regarding the evidence of abuse that must be reported. After I joined Farrell Fritz, I became more involved in children’s and women’s organizations. Legislatively, I successfully pushed to have two bills passed dealing with abused children and the inheritance rights of nonmarital children. I am also involved in women’s organizations because I feel that women have a very essential voice as professionals, and I want to contribute to that voice, especially since women and children face many of the same issues.