Articles Posted in Probate & Estate Litigation

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The unique issue before the court is whether service of process upon the Public Administrator is sufficient to confer personal jurisdiction over an estate: (a) which petitioner claims is worth less than $10,000, (b) where no probate proceeding has been initiated and (c) where no letters of administration have been issued. The Public Administrator has specially appeared in this proceeding to contest service of process upon it on behalf of the named estate respondent. Co-Respondent seeks dismissal of the entire proceeding based upon petitioner’s failure to serve a necessary party, to wit: the estate.

The Petitioner is a cooperative housing company organized under the Mitchell-Lama law. Pursuant to the Rules and Regulations governing such cooperative, on August 14, 1991 petitioner obtained a certificate of eviction from HPD authorizing petitioner “to immediately commence any legal proceedings deemed appropriate for the termination of a tenancy” against both “the Tenant (deceased) and co-respondent Occupant.” The certificate of eviction mentions in part that co-respondent who also appeared as a respondent in the administrative proceeding, submitted to the administrative tribunal a will purportedly made by the tenant in which the co-respondent’s daughter and co-respondent are named as the sole beneficiaries. The administrative tribunal rejected his argument that as his mother’s beneficiary he was entitled to live in the apartment.

It is uncontested that the aforementioned will was never admitted to probate and that otherwise no estate representative, either permanent or temporary, was ever appointed by the Surrogates Court. Petitioner thereafter commenced this summary dispossess-holdover proceeding. Service upon the estate of the decedent was made by service upon the Public Administrator.

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In this contested probate litigation proceeding, three motions are before the court. Decedent died on August 8, 1956 survived by several brothers and sisters and by an alleged spouse, the objector herein, to whom she was married on August 8, 1953. The propounded paper, dated November 9, 1955, makes no provision for the objector and recites, as the reason therefor, the decedent’s belief that the objector was not truly her husband since he had previously been married. The decedent further expressed her belief that objector had abandoned his wife in Italy and that his first marriage had never been legally terminated.

Issue has been joined by the interposition of an answer alleging lack of testamentary capacity, fraud, duress and undue influence and claiming an interest in the estate as the spouse of the deceased.

Proponent now moves to dismiss the objections on the ground that objector has no status. Decision on this motion and that of the objector to examine the subscribing witnesses will be withheld pending a determination on the issue of status.

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This is an appeal brought before the Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department, Kings County.

The issue here is (1) whether a power of attorney which conferred limited realty management powers upon JSF was one “relating to an interest in a decedent’s estate” and was therefore ineffective under EPTL 13-2.3 for failure to record it in the Surrogate’s Court, and (2) whether plaintiff LCC, a corporation dissolved by proclamation of the Secretary of State for nonpayment of franchise taxes in 1978, had capacity to bring this action to enforce obligations arising out of prohibited new business conducted five years after dissolution.

The court concluded that the power of attorney was not ineffective for failure to record in the Surrogate’s Court, and that the plaintiff lacked the capacity to institute this action.

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This is a proceeding for the probate of the will of the deceased. The will was propounded by testator’s widow, and contested by and others, children of testator. From a decree of the supreme court, general term, (15 N. Y. Supp. 601,) reversing a decree of the surrogate’s court, Kings County, (10 N. Y. Supp. 744,) refusing probate, and directing issues for a jury, contestants appeal. Appeal dismissed.

The general term, on appeal from the decree of the surrogate, which admitted to probate the will of 1881, and the codicil thereto, and denied probate to the will of 1887, on the ground that it was obtained by fraud and undue influence, reversed the decree ‘on questions of fact,’ and directed issues to be framed and sent to a jury for trial. The appeal to this court is taken on the ground that the general term had no power to review the facts, for the reason that the notice of appeal to the general term did not specify that the appeal was taken on the facts, but was, in general terms only, ‘from the decree and each and every part thereof.’ It is insisted that upon such a notice only questions of law presented by exceptions were brought before the general term, and that it could not reverse on the facts upon a consideration of the weight or preponderance of evidence, or because, in its judgment, the facts should be re-examined by a jury. The appellants rely in support of this contention upon section 2576 of the Code of Civil Procedure. That section, which is found in the article relating to appeals from orders or decrees of surrogates, is as follows: ‘The appeal may be taken upon questions of law, or upon the facts, or upon both. If it is taken from a decree rendered upon the trial by the surrogate of an issue of fact, it must be heard upon a case to be made and settled by the surrogate, as prescribed by law for the making and setting of a case upon an appeal in an action.’ The claim is that, if the appellants desire a review upon the facts in the Supreme Court, they must so specify in their notice of appeal. Section 2576 does not require that such specification should be made, nor is it elsewhere prescribed, but this, as is claimed, is an implication from the language of the section. We are not satisfied that this contention is well founded. Section 2574, which prescribes how an appeal may be taken, declares that it must be by written notice, to be served, ‘referring to the decree or order appealed from, and stating that the appellant appeals from the same or from some specified part thereof.’ It is not required that the grounds of the appeal shall be stated in the notice. If, under section 2576, it is necessary to specify that the appeal is upon the facts, in order to give jurisdiction to the appellate court to review them, it would seem equally necessary that, if the appeal was upon the law, it should be so specified, in order to enable the court to review the exceptions. We think section 2576 was intended to declare affirmatively the power of the general term to review both the facts and the law on appeals from surrogate’s

The appellants rely in support of this contention upon section 2576 of the Code of Civil Procedure. That section, which is found in the article relating to appeals from orders or decrees of surrogates, is as follows: ‘The appeal may be taken upon questions of law, or upon the facts, or upon both. If it is taken from a decree rendered upon the trial by the surrogate of an issue of fact, it must be heard upon a case to be made and settled by the surrogate, as prescribed by law for the making and setting of a case upon an appeal in an action.’ The claim is that, if the appellants desire a review upon the facts in the Supreme Court, they must so specify in their notice of appeal. Section 2576 does not require that such specification should be made, nor is it elsewhere prescribed, but this, as is claimed, is an implication from the language of the section. We are not satisfied that this contention is well founded. Section 2574, which prescribes how an appeal may be taken, declares that it must be by written notice, to be served, ‘referring to the decree or order appealed from, and stating that the appellant appeals from the same or from some specified part thereof.’ It is not required that the grounds of the appeal shall be stated in the notice. If, under section 2576, it is necessary to specify that the appeal is upon the facts, in order to give jurisdiction to the appellate court to review them, it would seem equally necessary that, if the appeal was upon the law, it should be so specified, in order to enable the court to review the exceptions. We think section 2576 was intended to declare affirmatively the power of the general term to review both the facts and the law on appeals from surrogate’s

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In an action to recover damages for medical malpractice and lack of informed consent, etc., in which the defendant SSS Medical Center commenced a third-party action against KC, as successor executor of the estate of Mr. RR, KC appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, dated May 1, 2009, which, inter alia, denied her motion to dismiss the third-party complaint based upon her allegation that her status as personal representative of the estate of Mr. RR terminated by operation of law.

On July 18, 2002, the plaintiff Mr. T underwent surgery at SSS Heights Medical Center (hereinafter SSS), and Mr. RR served as his anesthesiologist. Mr. RR died on October 1, 2002. On October 21, 2002, Mr. RR’s father, Mr. X, as executor of Mr. RR’s estate, petitioned the Surrogate’s Court, New York County, to have Mr. RR’s will admitted to probate. The petition to admit the will to probate stated that Mr. RR died while a domiciliary of New York, and that KC was named in the will as successor executor. By decree dated November 25, 2002, the will was admitted to probate, and on November 26, 2002, letters testamentary were issued to Mr. X. Thereafter, Mr. X died.

In 2003 the plaintiffs commenced the main action against, among others, SSS. In 2008, SSS commenced the instant third-party action against KC (hereinafter the appellant), as successor executor of Mr. RR’s estate, seeking common-law indemnification. The appellant, a resident of Colorado, retained Colorado attorneys X&Y. On behalf of their client, X&Y entered a stipulation with SSS, in which, inter alia, the appellant admitted that she was served with the third-party summons and complaint, and stated that the third-party summons and complaint would be forwarded to the medical malpractice insurance carrier for Mr. RR. The stipulation also stated that SSS “will seek no recovery from the Estate of Mr. RR, M.D., except to the extent of any professional liability insurance available to the Estate of Mr. RR, M.D., deceased.”

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This is a motion filed by the executrix requesting the Surrogate to fix the New York estate tax – Tax Law § 249–w.

The executrix made a motion to fix the tax returnable on 16 March 1972. While the State Tax Commission was duly served, no order fixing the tax has, 2 years and 9 months later, been submitted to the Surrogate. The executrix requests the Surrogate to act in his judicial, rather than administrative capacity, and to fix the tax.

The Commission appeared but made no response, formal or informal, to the relief requested by the taxpayer.

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NY Slip OP 05895-August 25, 2016

The decedent died on July 14, 2016, without a plan for what would happen to his law office in the event of his passing. The local bar association, Tompkins County Bar Association(TCBA) moved for an Order to appoint a lawyer as a custodian of the files in decedent’s office in order to protect the decedent’s clients. TCBA also moves (Rules of Professional Conduct 22 NYCRR 1200.0) Rule 1.15 (g) for a lawyer to be appointed as a successor signatory for the decedent’s clients. The Lawyers Fund for Client Protection and The Committee on Professional Standards did not oppose.

The Court granted the motion and the TCBA was appointed as the custodian of the law firm (Matter of Van Zandt 53 AD 3d 982[2008]). The issue of a successor signatory for the decedent’s law firm was denied with the appropriate application made to the Supreme Court (Rules of Professional Conduct [22 NYCRR 1200] Rule 1.5 [g][2].

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In these two proceedings to compel the production of the wills of the testator, ask the court to seal the documents which have been produced by the respondent.

By petitions dated July 25, 2008, petitioners sought to compel the New York City Police Department (NYPD) to produce documents in their possession purporting to be the wills of the testator. Pursuant to SCPA 1401, the court directed the NYPD to produce any documents in their possession purporting to be the decedents’ wills in court on August 12, 2008.

On August 12, 2008, counsel for the petitioners, counsel for the testator’s parents, and counsel for the NYPD appeared in court. The NYPD complied with the order and turned over the documents to the court. Asserting that matters contained in the documents may cause embarrassment to the decedents and their families, the petitioners, joined by the testator’s parents and the NYPD, made an oral application to seal the documents. The court declined to entertain the oral application and instead provided the petitioners, and the parents, as well as the NYPD, with an opportunity to submit their written application by August 14, 2008. In the interim, the court has maintained the relevant documents in chambers. The petitioners submitted their written application, while the testator’s parents and the NYPD did not.

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A Probate Lawyer said that, this is a proceeding for the probate of the will of the deceased. From a decree of the Appellate Division, affirming a decree of the Surrogate’s Court admitting the will and a codicil thereto to probate and construing the provisions thereof, and others appeal. Judgment modified.

The Appellate Division has affirmed a decree (121 N. Y. Supp. 100) of the surrogate of Kings County, which admitted to probate the will of the deceased, and which construed certain of its provisions. It consisted of two instruments, a will and a codicil, both of which were wholly written by the testator and were executed a few years before his death. The testator died April 9, 1909, unmarried and leaving no descendants. The will was executed in 1899. By its first and second articles the testator gave to his nieces respectively, legacies of $75,000 and $50,000. He directed that the two legacies should be held in trust, and that ‘the income shall be paid only to said legatees respectively and an amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) of the principal may be paid to each of them if they so elect when they attain the age of 30 years, to purchase and furnish a home.

The remainder of their respective legacies shall remain in trust and in case of the death of either of them without issue, before the death of their Aunt, legatee under Art. IV herein, then the share of such decedent shall in such event revert to her the said aunt. And in case either said nieces should die without issue subsequently to the death of their Aunt the said and prior to the death of their grandmother then in such case their respective shares shall in like manner revert to their grandmother.’ Article 3 gave to his brother, a plantation in Louisiana. By article 4 the testator gave to his sister, known in the family as a legacy of $125,000, to be held in trust ‘and the income thereof to be paid to herself only, with this proviso however that she may if she wish draw not exceeding Ten Thousand dollars ($10,000) with which to purchase and furnish a home for herself. In case of her death without issue and prior to that of her mother, all her interest herein shall revert to her mother.’ He also gave to her all his ‘interest in and to the estate’ of his mother. By article 6 the testator appoints his mother his ‘residuary legatee, the amount to be placed in trust as herein provided in Art. VIII, for her sole benefit, and the income come thereof to be paid to her. At her death, the principal and any accumulated income there may be shall be divided pro rata between the legatees named in articles I, II, and IV herein respectively upon the basis of their respective legacies herein and to be subject to the same trust restrictions stated herein appertaining to their several legacies hereunder.’ By article 8 the testator appointed the Union Trust Company of the city of New York as the trustee for the trusts in his will and as the executor thereof. A year later the testator executed the codicil. By that instrument he, first revoked the legacies given in article 4 of the will to his sister and substituted in place thereof the sum of ‘$25,000, SUBJECT TO ALL THE CONDITIONS And terms as expressed in said art. iv, with this exception to wit: that the sum of $2,500, instead of ten thousand dollars, be allowed her out of said amount for purchase of a home for herself if she so elects.’ Next he bequeathed to his sister, the sum of $35,000 and to his brother, the sum of $10,000, and then provided as follow: ‘And I hereby make these two legatees, upon the death of my mother, pro rata residuary legatees under the terms and conditions as set forth in Art. VI herein, as additional residuary legatees. The above legacy to his brother is in addition to the one in his favor under Art. III herein.’

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Plaintiff moves pursuant to CPLR § 3213 for an Order granting summary judgment in lieu of complaint for payment allegedly owed on a promissory note. “Defendants” or “the Estate”, as executors of the Estate of the decedent cross-move for summary judgment dismissing this proceeding pursuant to § 1810 of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act.

This case arises from a loan transaction between plaintiff and the decedent a real estate developer. Prior to his death, he was a 55% owner in Flatbush Extension, LLC (“Flatbush Extension”), which owned properties located at 67, 75, and 85 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. On or about March 27, 2007, U.S. Bank and Flatbush Extension entered into a secured loan agreement (the “Loan Agreement”) pursuant to which the parties agreed that Flatbush Extension could borrow up to $50,000,000 in connection with the development of a luxury condominium project (“Flatbush Extension Project”).

On or about June 1, 2007, U.S. Bank extended a separate, unsecured loan (“Loan”) to the decedent, in his individual capacity, in the amount of $5,000,000. To evidence the loan, Lax executed a promissory note, dated June 1, 2007 (the “Note”), which matured on June 1, 2009. The nature of the credit line was outlined in the Summary of Terms and Conditions (the “Term Sheet”), dated May 22, 2007, which generally states that U.S. Bank made the loan to allow Lax to “provide a portion of the predevelopment costs associated with various real estate projects that he was involved with.”

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