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A husband and wife were American citizens domiciled in Israel. The wife executed a will on January 12, 1987 and died on February 25, 1991 in Israel. The husband executed a will on January 14, 1988 died April 11, 1991 also in Israel.

The wife’s will provided that her entire estate will be left to her husband. She also provided that if her husband died before her, then her estate will be executed by her eldest daughter. The estate will then be equally shared by her eldest and middle daughter. Her youngest daughter will only receive $1.

The husband’s will made his wife and his eldest daughter his sole distributees. The husband’s will was probated in Israel in 1991.

2 brothers of the wife also died and left trusts for their sister in their will. The executors of the brother’s estate never gave to the sister her share in her brothers’ estate while she was alive.
In New York, on December 6, 2002, the middle and youngest daughters of the wife filed for the issuance of letters of administration and for them to be named administratrix so that they can sue the bank executing their older uncle’s estate and claim the trust that their uncle had left in his will for their mother. A New York Probate Lawyer said the youngest daughter sent notice of her petition to her eldest sister living in Israel but she did not file an answer and she did not appear before the Surrogate’s Court.

The New York Surrogate’s Court issued letters of administration to the middle and youngest daughters in New York on March 30, 2003. In November 2003, the youngest daughter, the administratrix filed suit to compel the executor of their uncle’s estate to render an accounting of their uncle’s estate and to explain why it had not distributed to their mother or to her estate the trust left to her by her late brother.

Also in November 2003, the eldest daughter, an American citizen domiciled in Israel, finally brought their mother’s will into probate. Her mother’s will dated January 12, 1987 was not probated after her death in 1991 because at that time, it was not clear that she had properties left to comprise her estate. The mother’s will left her entire estate to her husband. The husband who died two months after his wife left his estate to his eldest and middle daughter.

Long Island Probate Lawyers said when the youngest daughter who was named administratrix by the Surrogate’s Court of New York learned that her eldest sister had filed a probate proceeding in Israel for the probate of their mother’s will, she filed a motion in the Surrogate’s Court of New York to issue a restraining order against her sister and probate court in Israel from further proceeding with the probate of their mother’s will.

In March 2004, the eldest sister asked the Surrogate’s Court of New York to vacate the letters of administration issued to the youngest daughter stating that their mother had a will and it was being probated in Israel. They also claimed that material misstatements of facts were made by the administratrix in her petition for letters of administration and that she was not fit to serve as administrator or fiduciary of the mother’s estate.

The only two questions before the Supreme Court are whether or not the Surrogate’s Court of New York can issue an injunction against an Israeli court to stop it from probating the will of an Israeli domiciliary; and whether or not the issuance of the letters of administration by the Surrogate’s Court of New York bars the probate proceeding in Israel.

Brooklyn Probate Lawyers said the Court ruled that the Surrogate’s Court was correct to deny the petition for injunction filed before it to stop the Israeli court from proceeding with the probate of the mother’s will in Israel.

The youngest daughter applied for injunction through a mere motion and this is not procedurally sufficient. The youngest daughter also failed to prove that she is entitled to the injunction: she did not state how the probate proceedings would affect her adversely. And even if the probate proceedings affected her adversely, her cause of action should be an objection in the probate proceedings in Israel instead of an injunction in New York. The youngest daughter failed to claim a relief that can be granted to her by the New York court. Issuing an injunction would forever leave the issue of the validity of the mother’s will undecided. If the New York court were to issue an injunction against the Israeli court, the result would be a denial of probate to a will without a hearing on the merits.

On the issue of the issuance of letters of administration, the Surrogate’s Court ruled that this does not bar the probate of the will in Israel. The purpose of the letters of administration is for the administratrix to be empowered to secure any and all properties of the estate. It has not declared the decedent to be intestate yet. When the the Israeli court has denied probate to the mother’s will then will the issue of disposing the estate using the rules of intestacy be relevant.
The petition for injunction is denied. The letters of administration are not revoked.

Administering an estate is a complicated task that involves not only the payment of debts and taxes of the deceased but it may also involve running after debtors of the deceased so that the value of the estate can be proved. A skilled lawyer can assist in filing suit against debtors of the deceased. The debts must be collected for the proceeds to form part of the estate. An experienced lawyer can present evidence and argue in behalf of the estate to secure credits belonging to the estate. Call Stephen Bilkis and Associates for advice and a free consultation.

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