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Probate Avoidance Attorney Long Island

Meet JANET L. O’HANLON – Probate Avoidance Attorney on Long Island

Janet is a local Probate Avoidance Attorney on Long Island that has been serving the community for over 25+ years. Her office can be found in Port Jefferson Station, NY. As she is a member of the Winkler Kurtz, LLP law firm. 

With a reputation for exceptional attention to detail, Janet prides herself in being responsive to every client’s individual needs in each case she handles.

Clients would describe Janet as a skilled and compassionate advocate, supportive throughout each step of the legal process. Focusing her practice in the areas of estate planning, elder law, probate, real estate transactions, and appellate practice, Janet is a strong advocate for her clients and always prioritizes their best interests in any matter.

Janet’s unique care and commitment to her clients, paired with her unsurpassed personalized service, provides individuals with the confidence and peace of mind that their specific needs will be well represented. Whether she is helping a client protect their family after death, assisting in family arrangements following an unexpected death, or guiding individuals in buying or selling their home, Janet always makes herself available to her clients for support and legal advice.

Initially admitted to the Bar in 1993, Janet is permitted to practice law in New York State and the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Janet participates in a number of professional associations outside of the firm, servings as a member of the New York State Bar Association, Suffolk County Bar Association and the Surrogate’s Court, Elder Law and Estate Planning committees of Suffolk County Bar Association. She also volunteers her time to the Suffolk County Pro Bono Project, a pro bono program designed to expand access to the legal system for Suffolk County residents in need.



Understanding Probate

When someone that you love dies, it can be an emotionally challenging time. The next steps — handling the details of the person’s estate — can often be overwhelming.

In New York, if a person dies with a will, the estate will likely go through what is known as probate. This legal process requires multiple steps, and compliance with a number of rules. For those tasked with the responsibilities of distributing the estate, probate can be a daunting task.

Fortunately, the Long Island probate attorneys of Winkler Kurtz, LLP are here to help. Since 1987, we have guided clients through this process smoothly and successfully. Our experience in probate allows us to confidently steer you through each step.

We know that after the death of a loved one, few people are equipped to deal with the intricacies and paperwork involved in probate. With our assistance, probate can be a relatively seamless process. Contact our office today at 631-928-8000 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation with a skilled Long Island probate attorney.

What is Probate?

In New York, probate is the method through which a last will and testament is deemed legitimate. Probate starts with filing papers in the local Surrogate Court. Under New York law, a will must only undergo probate if the assets of the estate are valued at $30,000 or greater.

During this process, all interested persons are given the opportunity to oppose the will before it is admitted to probate and the executor is appointed. If the will is not contested, the Surrogate Court will appoint the executor of the estate by issuing what is known as “Letters Testamentary.”  The executor can then move forward with distributing the estate of the decedent.

There are multiple steps involved in the probate process, from the initial filing of documents with the local Surrogate Court (which is located in Riverhead here in Suffolk County) to winding up the estate and providing a final accounting. If the will is contested, it adds another layer of complexity to the matter. In these situations, a Long Island probate attorney can help individuals and families as they navigate probate.

How a Probate Avoidance Attorney on Long Island Can Help with the Process

If you have been appointed as the executor of an estate or are otherwise involved in an estate matter, it is important to seek legal counsel. The probate process can be complicated, and involves specific rules and duties that must be fulfilled under New York law.

This is particularly true for executors, who are typically appointed by the decedent (person who passed away) in their will. Executors have three primary functions under New York law: collect and take an inventory of the estate’s assets; pay the estate’s taxes; and transfer the assets of the estate to the heirs or beneficiaries.

An executor has a fiduciary duty to the estate, which requires him or her to perform their assigned tasks to the best of their ability, without any conflicts of interest or self-dealing.  Executors are also considered beneficiaries under the will. However, an executor, you are forbidden to give any particular beneficiary — such as a favorite sibling, your child, or a spouse — preferential treatment in distributing the assets of the estate.

Executors are also prohibited from engaging in self-dealing, such as by purchasing an asset from the estate for less than market value. In addition, executors may be held personally liable if they breach their fiduciary duty, such as by distributing an asset that should have gone to a creditor. For these reasons, it is vital that executors seek counsel from a seasoned Long Island probate attorney, who can help guide them through the process.

Work with a Probate Avoidance Attorney on Long Island

If you have recently lost a loved one, you may be facing the prospect of going through probate in New York. Winkler Kurtz, LLP can remove the stress of this endeavor from your life by helping you with filing, accounting, distribution of assets and more. We will work with you to help you fulfill your fiduciary duties as an executor.

If you are involved in another estate matter, we can advocate for your interests, including contesting a will if necessary. Our experience and knowledge of New York probate law makes us ideal choices for your Long Island probate attorney. To learn more or to schedule a consultation, contact our office today at 631-928-8000 or contact us online anytime.


It’s a simple fact: no one likes to contemplate their own mortality. Planning for your own death is hard. Yet it is a necessary step that should be taken in order to ease the burden on your loved ones.

Putting together a comprehensive estate plan ensures that your wishes are followed in the event that you are incapacitated and after you die. Perhaps more importantly, it allows your family members to focus on spending time with you and then mourning you — rather than dealing with the details of your finances and potentially squabbling over your estate.

An estate plan does not have to be complex. Working with an experienced Long Island estate planning attorney can help smooth the road for you and your family as you enter your golden years. Read on to learn more about why you should not put off estate planning.

One Family’s Story

JayDee Pohs lost her mother unexpectedly in 2019. As expected, she was overcome by grief, but felt another strong emotion: stress. Her mom died without a will, trust, or any form of estate planning. This left JayDee and her family in the unenviable position of sorting out her mom’s paperwork instead of spending time with her as she died.

According to JayDee, she had to leave her mom while she was dying in hospice to attempt to get more paperwork done for her estate. Now that her mom has passed, she is overwhelmed by all of the details of handling her mom’s estate without a will or trust. According to JayDee, “You have every emotion you could ever have, because you are about to lose your loved one, and you have to deal with everything else on top of it.”

JayDee is not alone. The AARP reports that just 4 out of 10 American adults have a will or living trust. This means that 60% of Americans do not have an estate plan. Fortunately, most older Americans have done at least some estate planning. 81% of Americans aged 72 or older have estate-planning documents. Just 58% of those aged 53 to 71 have done some form of estate planning.

How Estate Planning Protects You — and Your Family

Many people view estate planning as something for the very wealthy. The reality is that no matter your net worth, an estate plan can not only protect your assets, but your wishes as you near the end of your life (and even after you pass away).

Your estate consists of everything that you own. It may consist of your house, car, bank accounts, stock, life insurance, jewelry, ownership of a professional practice, and other possessions. Estate planning is the process of designating how these assets will be distributed upon your death. It also dictates how your affairs will be conducted if you cannot make decisions for yourself.

The most common estate planning tool is a last will and testament. This document lays out your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets. If you die without a will (known as intestate), the state of New York will decide how your assets will be distributed. To make sure that your assets are distributed in a way that you want, it is best to have a will.

Trusts are another common type of estate planning tool that can be used to keep your affairs private. There are a number of types of trusts that can be used as part of an estate plan. Many of these will allow you to minimize taxes and avoid the probate process, which can be time-consuming and expensive.

A living will is a document that makes provisions for your care in the event that you are unable to do so yourself. With a living will, you can name another person, such as a spouse or a child, who can make health care decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated.

Similarly, a financial power of attorney will give a third party the ability to take control over your financial affairs if you are unable to do so. This could be a spouse or child, or a financial advisor. In conjunction with a will, a financial power of attorney is a powerful tool to help prevent elder financial abuse.

Contact a Probate Avoidance Attorney on Long Island

An estate plan can help you make arrangements for your future, and give both you and your family peace of mind. It can be relatively straightforward, and set forth your wishes in a way that minimizes the burden on your loved ones in the event that you become ill.

At Winkler Kurtz, LLP, our team of attorneys is skilled at working with individuals and couples to create estate plans that work for them. We represent clients who have estates of all sizes. Contact us today at 631-928-8000 or online to schedule an appointment with a Long Island estate planning attorney.

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