Articles Posted in Brooklyn

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In a probate proceeding, the decedent’s widow, appeals from stated portions of a decree of the Surrogate’s Court, Kings County, dated February 13, 1991, which, inter alia, upon refusing to admit a will to probate, impressed a constructive trust upon the entire estate for the benefit of the beneficiaries named in the will, and directed disposition of the decedent’s estate.

The decedent and his wife, the appellant, executed mutual wills that were mirror images of each other. The couple was childless and wanted their assets to be shared equally by their respective relatives. Accordingly, simultaneous with the execution of the wills, they executed a written contract which prohibited either party from revoking or changing the wills in any way, without the written consent of the other, and they further provided that any attempt to do so would be ineffective as against the claims of the legatees of the mirror wills. The wife survived the decedent, whose will is the subject matter of this appeal. His will provide a portion of his estate would be placed in trust with the income therefrom to the appellant for life, and the remainder to their relatives, who were enumerated in the will. The decedent bequeathed the rest of his estate to the appellant outright.

After the decedent’s death, the appellant wife, alleging that she could not find the decedent’s will, applied for and obtained letters of administration. As the sole distributee, she received the entire net estate. The petitioner (hereinafter the proponent), a co-executor and co-trustee under the will, commenced the instant proceeding against her to revoke the letters of administration that were issued to her, and to admit to probate a conformed copy of the decedent’s will or, alternatively, for specific performance of the aforementioned agreement.

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This action is brought to restrain the violation or the threatened violation by the defendant of a certain restrictive covenant claimed by plaintiffs to affect the lots or parcels of land within an area located in the Borough of Brooklyn now or heretofore known as ‘XYZ Property’. The area in question is bounded on the west by Q Avenue, on the north by AD Road, on the east by RGR Avenue and on the south by FNR Street.

In the year 1893, Mr. JJ died testate seized of said real property. His will was duly admitted to probate by the Surrogate. By said will the testator’s real property was devised to his children and his executors were given a power of sale.

On or about April 28, 1899 said executors caused to be filed in the office of the Clerk of the County of Kings a map entitled ‘Map of Property Belonging to the Estate of Mr. JJ.’ By said map, the land within the area was subdivided into building lots. All of the lots within the tract, except those fronting on Q Avenue, were conveyed by deeds containing a restrictive covenant in form as follows:

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In a probate proceeding, the petitioner, Mrs. JP, appeals, as limited by her brief, from so much of an order of the Surrogate’s Court, Kings County, dated October 16, 2007, as, after a hearing, granted those branches of the motion of the objectant, Mr. EP III, which were to disqualify her from serving as executrix for the estate of a deceased relative and to reinstate letters of administration previously issued to the objectant.

The order is reversed insofar as appealed from, on the facts and in the exercise of discretion, with costs, that branch of the motion of the objectant, Mr. EP III, which was to disqualify the petitioner is granted only to the extent of requiring the petitioner to retain new counsel for the estate and that branch of the motion is otherwise denied, that branch of the motion which was to reinstate letters of administration previously issued to the objectant is denied, and the matter is remitted to the Surrogate’s Court, Kings County, for further proceedings in accordance herewith.

The right of a testator or testatrix to designate, among those legally qualified, who will settle his or her affairs, is not to be lightly discarded, as explained in the case of Matter of Flood ( 236 N.Y. 408, 410, 140 N.E. 936). However, in the case of Matter of Mergenhagen (50 A.D.3d 1486 1488, 856 N.Y.S.2d 389) the Surrogate may disqualify an individual from receiving letters of administration where friction or hostility between such individual and a beneficiary or a co-administrator or co-administratrix, especially where such individual is at fault, interferes with the proper administration of the estate, and future cooperation is unlikely.

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A New York Probate Lawyer said that, this is an uncontested proceeding to probate a copy of the last will and testament of the decedent. The will is dated June 26, 2002, the original of which cannot be located. The petitioner is the nominated alternate executor, the decedent’s daughter. The nominated executor, the decedent’s husband, has filed a renunciation of his right to serve as executor. A waiver and consent has been filed by the decedent’s son, the decedent’s only other distributee, who was expressly disinherited both by the will offered for probate and by the revocable lifetime trust which is the residuary beneficiary under the will.

The issue in this case is whether the last will and testament of the decedent should be admitted for probate.

A New York Will Lawyer said in order to have a copy of the will admitted to probate, petitioner must satisfy the requirements of SCPA 1407 which provides: A lost or destroyed will may be admitted to probate only if: 1. It is established that the will has not been revoked, and 2. Execution of the will is proved in the manner required for the probate of an existing will, and 3. All of the provisions of the will are clearly and distinctly proved by each of at least two credible witnesses or by a copy or draft of the will proved to be true and complete.

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A New York Probate Lawyer said the decedent died a resident of Nassau County in December 2010, survived by his sister, the petitioner; and by his brothers, respondent and movant herein. The decedent’s last will and testament executed in May 2000 was offered for probate by the petitioner, who is named as the sole beneficiary of the decedent’s residuary estate, as well as the executrix in the propounded instrument. Preliminary letters testamentary issued to the petitioner by order of the court. The objectants have filed objections to probate of the will.

A Nassau County Estate lawyer said that the disputes presently before the court all relate to a supermarket, which was run by the decedent and his brother. The supermarket is comprised of three separate closely held corporations.

A New York Will Lawyer said the other respondents named in the proceedings brought by the sister are: the accountant for decedent, as well as for the brother and the various corporate entities involved in these disputes; and the replacement of the decedent replacement on the board of directors.

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A New York Probate Lawyer said that, before the court are a probate proceeding and a discovery proceeding. The decedent, died on June 14, 2008 a resident of Nassau County, survived by her four adult children. Decedent had been married for fifty (50) years. They divorced in April 2001. At the time of her death, decedent resided in property located at 55 Chestnut Hill, Roslyn, New York.

A New York Will Lawyer said that, these proceedings arise out of the same facts and involve four (4) documents. Decedent and her husband executed a joint will dated December 20, 1993. The joint will provided in relevant part the following: SECOND. Upon the death of one of us, leaving the other of us surviving, the entire estate of the one dying first and all property of which she or he has power of disposal, whether owned jointly or severally, is hereby given to the survivor, upon the condition, however, that whatever remains of the above estate after the death of the survivor shall be given as set forth herein Paragraph Fourth hereof. Paragraph FOURTH created a trust for the benefit of the testator’s grandchildren and an outright bequest. The will further provided: FIFTH: We have mutually agreed upon the foregoing disposition of our property, and, in consideration thereof, it is further mutually agreed by both of us that this Will shall be forever binding upon both of us and upon the estate of each of us, and shall bind our legatees, distributes (sic) and representatives. We further mutually agree that this Will shall be irrevocable and shall not be modified or revoked by either of us or by the survivor of us, except that it may be revoked or modified only by a writing subscribed by both of us and executed by both of us with the formality of a Will. SEVENTH: Upon the death of one of us leaving the other surviving, the survivor is hereby appointed executor or executrix of the estate of the one dying first; and upon the death of both of us.

A Bronx Probate Lawyer said that, decedent and her husband entered into a Marital Settlement Agreement in January 2001 which provided, in part, that: 7. The Husband and Wife have heretofore executed a Joint Irrevocable Last Will and Testament in New York, which is again reaffirmed by the parties as their Last Will and Testament, and both parties agree to maintain and support the obligation and covenants made therein and further agree not to attempt to Revoke such Last Will and Testament. Decedent and her husband owned two residences; one was a condominium in Boca Raton, Florida, the other, a condominium in Roslyn, New York. The Marital Settlement Agreement provided that Jerome acquired title to the Florida property and the decedent acquired the Roslyn property.

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A New York Probate Lawyer said that this is an action transferred to this court from Supreme Court, Nassau County, defendant Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. (Countrywide), one of several defendants, moves the court for an order dismissing the complaint as against Countrywide. Plaintiffs oppose Countrywide’s motion and cross-move for summary judgment dismissing Countrywide’s answer, or, in the alternative, striking Countrywide’s fourth and seventh affirmative defenses.

A New York Will Lawyer said that, this action emanates from a foreclosure proceeding involving property located at 198-200 Wellesley Street, Hempstead, New York. That property was owned by the decedent who died intestate on July 13, 1986. Her brother, administered her estate as voluntary administrator pursuant to SCPA Article 13. It appears, although it is not entirely clear, that her brother was the decedent’s sole distributee and that the subject property vested in him immediately upon his sister’s death. The brother then died testate on June 9, 1994. An administrator was appointed the voluntary administrator of his estate. The court’s file contains his original will which devises and bequeaths all of his property to his cousin. He died August 1, 2000. There was no deed executed from the estate of the decedents, nor was there a deed from the estate of the brother. Although the brother original will was filed in the court by Calhoun incident to the voluntary administration of the estate of the decedent, the will was never offered for, or admitted to, probate. The plaintiffs are the non-marital children of the decedent, the administrators of his estate, and claim to be his only distributees.

A Long Island Probate Lawyer said that, the underlying action by plaintiffs is to vacate the tax lien foreclosure sale, the deed by which the current owners of record, defendants, obtained title, and the mortgage placed on the property by the defendant Countrywide incident to the purchase of the property by defendants. Plaintiffs contend that as the fee owners of the subject property at the time the foreclosure action was commenced, they were entitled to notice of the proceeding and the failure to provide that notice requires the vacating of the judgment in the foreclosure action and all subsequent deeds and mortgages.

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The proponent, A, in this probate proceeding is a devisee and nominated co-executor under the propounded instrument dated 16 February 1994. A moves for summary judgment admitting the will to probate, dismissing the joint objections filed by B, the decedent’s cousin, who is the beneficiary of a larger bequest under an earlier testamentary instrument, and C, the decedent’s brother and distributee; and dismissing the brother’s petition for letters of administration.

A New York Probate Lawyer said the objectants oppose the motion and cross move to dismiss the proponent’s application for letters testamentary and for the appointment of either or both of them as the fiduciary of the estate. They allege that the 1994 instrument is invalid due to lack of due execution, lack of testamentary capacity, forgery, undue influence and fraud. They further assert that the petitioner’s prior felony convictions render him ineligible to be appointed a fiduciary of the estate.

On 23 October 2003, the decedent, a widow, died at the age of 77.

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The plaintiffs seek to set aside a deed executed by the decedent’s sister, in October 2000, transferring to the decedent her 50% interest in real property in the Bronx. The complaint, alleges, inter alia, that decedent, as a result of undue influence exerted upon her by the decedent’s sister, conveyed to her 50% interest in the Bronx realty. A New York Probate Lawyer said the complaint also contains a cause of action alleging that the decedent converted funds held in a joint bank account with decedent. The plaintiffs in the action are decedent and a niece and nephew of the decedent who allege that they own the remaining 50% interest in the realty.

A Bronx County Estate Litigation attorney said that in February 2005, the plaintiffs attempted to serve the decedent by substituted service while he was a patient at a hospital, by delivering the summons and complaint to a person who allegedly agreed to accept service on the decedent’s behalf, and mailing a copy to the decedent at that facility on the following day. The decedent died at the hospital, leaving five distributees including decedent and the other two plaintiffs.

A New York Will Lawyer said the non-relative, is the sole beneficiary under a testamentary instrument purportedly executed by the decedent. That instrument is the subject of a will contest and, upon a motion by the plaintiffs in the transferred action, the court consented to receive the transferred action for trial and, because the action could not proceed until a fiduciary was appointed in the decedent’s estate, the court invited the plaintiffs to “seek the appointment of a temporary administrator in the event that the proponent does not seek preliminary letters.

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A New York Probate Lawyer said a last will was executed approximately one year prior to the owner’s death at the age of 89. Her successors are her three post-deceased children and her two daughters. But, the probate petition was not filed more than twenty years after the woman’s death.

All of the parties agree that the deceased woman suffered a stroke previously which resulted in her partial paralysis, and she required the assistance of an aide for the rest of her life. A New York Will Lawyer said all of the testimony also indicates that after her stroke, the woman’s children assisted her in her daily affairs and she enjoyed close relationships with all of them as well as with her grandchildren. Until her death, she resided on the top floor of her two-family house, and her first son lived in the downstairs apartment where he remained until his death. Sources revealed that the deceased woman’s first son was a paraplegic after being shot.

At the trial, the attorney/draftsman testified that he had been an attorney for 52 years. During those years, the attorney drafted and supervised the completion of over 1,000 last wills.

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