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Appellant Claims Undue Influence

This is a case being heard in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, and Second Department. The case involves a contested probate proceeding. The proponent in the case is appealing a decree made in the Surrogates Court of Queens County made on the 25th of May, 1962. The decree denied probate to the written instrument as the last will and testament of the decedent. It was adjudged that the will was executed under undue influence and fraud exerted upon her by the proponent.

Court Discussion and Decision

A New York Probate Lawyer said the proponent in this case is the son of the decedent and a lawyer. The two contestants in the case are the children of another son who is deceased. The proponent prepared the propounded instrument that bequeaths the estate in equal shares to him and his three sisters, but excludes the two contestants from any share of the estate.

In a prior will written by the decedent left her estate to her five children in equal shares. Brooklyn Probate Lawyers said the will stated that the contestants were to receive their father’s share.

The jury found that the decedent possessed the testamentary capacity and that the propounded instrument was executed in due form. A Bronx Probate Lawyer said the jury also found that the decedent was free from restraint, but that execution of the will was caused by undue influence and fraud exerted upon the decedent by the proponent. Accordingly, probate was denied based on the findings made by the jury.

After reviewing the facts of the case and the jury verdict the court finds that the jury’s findings were erroneous as a matter of the law. There is no evidence provided to sustain them. For this reason the issue of fraud and undue influence can be reasonably withdrawn. The propounded instrument will be remitted for probate.

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