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Properly administering an estate is critical, particularly with cases involving asbestos exposure. Many clients have Last Will and Testaments prepared, while others unfortunately don’t get around to it. Either way, we’re here to pick up the pieces when all is said and done. We cannot undo the damage done through the actions of negligent companies, but we can offer our clients some reassurance their families will be provided for. We can give them some measure of financial security by carefully assisting them through the estate process.
Before becoming an associate attorney, Nicole A. Hyatt has been working in Weitz & Luxenberg’s Trusts and Estates Department as a law clerk for several years. She works alongside her colleague and supervisor, attorney David Kaufman. They are instrumental in guiding, supporting, and assisting our clients and their families as they face some of the greatest challenges in their lives.
“We handle the estate probate and administration for many types of lawsuits,” Ms. Hyatt indicates. “These include asbestos exposure cases, as well as general negligence, medical malpractice, environmental hazards, and defective devices. Some types of lawsuits may reach settlement or verdict fairly quickly, while others take several years to resolve. Whatever the case may be, we ensure that we comply with New York State law to get our clients’ families their rightful settlement funds in proper form and as quickly as possible.”
“With asbestos exposure cases, the process can be lengthy,” Ms. Hyatt explains. “Sometimes our client is living when the case is initially brought, but may pass on before a verdict or settlement is reached. Also, a mesothelioma or other asbestos exposure diagnosis doesn’t just affect one person. The whole family is affected — not just for days or months — but for the rest of their lives.”
“Our department works closely with families one-on-one. We need to be compassionate, understanding, and patient but also knowledgeable, informative, and direct. We need to be clear about the legal process and how it works so families know what to expect. They are already struggling with uncertainty and a variety of feelings and concerns. They are facing a ‘new normal’ and we want to provide whatever support we can,” Ms. Hyatt adds.
“Our department is responsible for handling probate and administration, as well as wrongful death compromise proceedings. Setting up an estate allows Weitz & Luxenberg and the decedent’s family to continue litigating a client’s case after they pass on. Our dedicated estates team works diligently with families to effectuate the release and proper administration of the decedent’s estates,” Ms. Hyatt says.
“In the state of New York, part of what we do involves working with a specialized court system called the Surrogate courts,” Ms. Hyatt explains. “The Surrogate courts hear cases involving the legal affairs of decedents. These courts handle the probate of wills and the administration of estates, for example.”
“In many cases, the Surrogate’s Courts require a Wrongful Death Compromise,” Ms. Hyatt details. “A Wrongful Death Compromise facilitates the release of the settlement proceeds to the decedent’s family. Through the compromise, the Surrogate’s Courts, the trial courts, or Supreme courts, or some combination of them, oversee and supervise the administration and distribution of a decedent’s assets. The ultimate goal is to ensure that the decedent’s rightful heirs receive the settlement proceeds.”
“The best feeling is knowing we’ve supported and assisted families through an incredibly difficult time in their lives. The most rewarding part of what I do is if we are able to bring some stability, reassurance, and comfort,” Ms. Hyatt reveals.
Ms. Hyatt joined Weitz & Luxenberg in 2008, shortly after receiving her B.S. from Pace University in New York City. She began working as an administrative assistant in the firm’s estates department, where she quickly learned she wanted to pursue this area of law.
In fact Ms. Hyatt worked for Weitz & Luxenberg while attending law school at night. Throughout law school, she had to do pro bono work and fulfill other requirements. She gained experience working for the New York Legal Assistance Group in the Temporary Protected Status Legal Clinic as well as at The Legal Aid Society, National Lawyers Guild, and United States Department of Probation and Parole.
In 2014, she earned her J.D. from Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, in Central Islip, New York. Then Ms. Hyatt officially joined Weitz & Luxenberg full time in our estates department. It’s where she has worked ever since. She accepted our offer to become an associate attorney in the same department, where we hope she remains for years to come.
Outside the office, Ms. Hyatt likes to keep it low key. She loves spending time with family and friends, traveling, and trying new restaurants. But she also enjoys listening to music, attending concerts, and relaxing on her own.
Nicole A. Hyatt will be happy to review your case.