Estate litigation lawyer Jaclene D’Agostino represents fiduciaries and beneficiaries in Surrogate’s Courts throughout the New York metropolitan area. She has handled probate contests, accounting and discovery and other proceedings related to trusts and estates. Her experience includes conducting pretrial discovery, legal research and drafting motion papers. Jaclene frequently contributes to the New York Trusts & Estates Litigation blog.
What’s your day-to-day like in estate litigation?
A typical day may begin with an appearance or conference at one of the Surrogate’s Courts in the area and continue with work on motion papers or pretrial discovery in the office. Our cases run the gamut from probate contests to accounting proceedings and sometimes even proceedings seeking the removal of a fiduciary whose performance has been challenged. In some cases, we attempt to recover items that were wrongfully removed from an estate while the decedent was still living, so they can be properly distributed to the rightful beneficiaries. In our practice, we’ve also had the opportunity to be involved with a number of high-profile cases that are especially compelling because they tend to be more complex, and allow me to have an in depth perspective on a situation that I would otherwise only learn about through the media.
“Success as an attorney means bringing the best possible result to your client, whether it’s a win or settlement, and the representation ends in a positive relationship.”
Cases like these can be taxing for the client. What are some strategies you use to help clients through what can be an emotional process?
I keep my clients as informed and as up to date as possible regarding the status of their cases. It’s particularly important to keep lines of communication open with estate litigation clients whose cases involve family disputes because they often require a certain level of emotional support. For that reason there’s almost a counseling aspect to my role that extends beyond the typical attorney-client relationship. Given the tension inherent in family issues, our clients often become frustrated with the legal process, so I have to be very thorough in explaining every step along the way.
Why should clients choose Farrell Fritz?
We’re a group of attorneys who respect and consult with one another, which helps to ensure the client benefits from a breadth of resources and knowledge. If I have a question about a matter that involves another area of law, such as real estate, there is someone down the hall who can answer it – and is more than willing to assist me. It’s a collegial and comfortable firm. Everyone likes working here, and that carries over into our work product.
Farrell Fritz promotes community involvement among its attorneys. What are some ways you are involved?
I’ve had the opportunity to serve on several committees through charities and bar associations. For the past few years I have been a member of the golf committee for Child Abuse Prevention Services, or CAPS. CAPS is an organization committed to preventing bullying and child abuse in the community. I have also served on the breakfast committee for the Women’s Fund of Long Island, formerly known as the Long Island Fund for Women and Girls. I see my involvement as an opportunity to give back to the community and actively participate in causes that I believe in, to meet new people, and to grow as a person as well as an attorney. To that end, I serve as the editor-in-chief of the Trusts & Estates Law Section Newsletter for the New York State Bar Association. That role has fostered my professional growth because I am constantly reviewing and editing articles on recent cases and timely trusts and estates topics.