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Wife Claims Husband Executed Will Under Undue Influence

This case is being heard in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, Second Department. The matter before the court deals with Leonard Favaloro, deceased, Joan Favaloro as the appellant and Joyce Donahue, et al. as the respondents.

Case Background

The decedent, Leonard Favaloro died on May 8th, 2006 when he was 79 years old. He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Joan Favaloro and his two adult daughters from a previous marriage. The daughters are the petitioners in this case.

The will of the decedent was entered into probate pursuant to a stipulation between the decedent and his surviving wife. She obtained letters of testamentary and the petitioners obtained letters of administration for the purpose of examining their rights to an IRA account and an investment account that the decedent owned while he was alive.

A Staten Island Probate Lawyer said the petitioners conducted a discovery and then filed a petition for the accounts to be turned over from the decedent’s wife. The petitioners claim that the accounts were designated to pass on to them after the decedent passed away. The petitioners claim that prior to his death his wife had changed the title and the beneficiary designations on the accounts to prevent them from passing on to the petitioners.

The wife of the decedent moved for a summary judgment to dismiss the petition on the 23rd of April, 2009. She stated that she was the designated beneficiary and owner of the accounts since they were started, which was over fifteen years prior to the death of the decedent. Nassau County Probate Lawyers said she further argues that she remained the beneficiary and owner of the accounts despite the fact that the decedent executed change of beneficiary forms whil in the hospital in April of 2006. She states that the broker was following oral instructions to not implement the change forms.

The petitioners oppose the motion for summary judgment and state that since the broker received the change forms this showed that the decedent wanted the accounts to be handed over to them upon his passing.

Case Discussion and Decision

The wife is appealing an order that is dated the 29th of September, 2009 that denied her motion for summary judgment. The Surrogate’s court determined that while she had made prima facie showing that the decendant had rescinded the change forms there were still triable issues of fact as to whether he did so under undue influence. When the case went on to a jury trial the jury was given the opportunity to answer the question of whether or not the decedent was under undue influence when he called the broker and gave the instructions to disregard the change forms that gave the accounts to the petitioners.

The court is ordering that the original decree be reversed and the appellant’s motion for judgment as a matter of law is granted. The petition is dismissed. A bill of costs will be awarded to the appellant.

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