A New York Probate Lawyer said that, a person claiming to be a creditor of the decedent applies for the issuance to him of ancillary letters of administration. It is conceded that the decedent was domiciled in Ohio, and that letters of administration were issued by a competent tribunal of that State to another person. The petition alleges that the decedent left personal property in New York consisting of ‘Royalty contracts of United Music Corporation.’ The Ohio administrator submitted an answer on September 18, 1962, alleging that there are no assets of the decedent within the State of New York. He does admit the contract between the decedent and United Music Corporation, ‘a publisher in the County of New York’, but he makes the somewhat ambiguous allegation that ‘no revenue or income’ was at that moment due the estate except ‘some writers’ royalties.’ He also asserts that there is no need for ancillary administration because, in his status as domiciliary administrator, he has been collecting the royalties due under that contract, and has experienced no difficulty in the prompt collection of them. He denied knowledge or information as to the validity of the petitioner’s claim, and he requested that if ancillary letters are to be issued, they be issued to him. The Public Administrator asserted that his right to letters were superior to that of the petitioner and requested the issuance of letters to him. During the proceeding the petitioner conceded the superior right of the Public Administrator to letters. The matter was placed upon the calendar for hearing of the contested issue as to the existence of any asset in New York County.
A New York Will Lawyer said that, after the matter was placed upon the hearing calendar, the Ohio administrator attempted to avoid meeting that issue by going through a form of sale of all the decedent’s rights under the contract. In October, 1962 he applied to the Ohio court for permission to sell all of the decedent’s interest in the musical composition ‘Huckle Buck’, which is the composition published by United Music Corporation, and he obtained judicial permission to sell it ‘at the best price obtainable’. No mention was made in that application of the proceedings in this court or of the petitioner’s claim. On October 31, 1962, the Ohio administrator signed an instrument which purports to transfer to a third person all of the decedent’s interest in the composition, the copyright thereto, and any extension and renewal. The consideration recited in that instrument is $2,500 and payment of that sum to the Ohio administrator was proven.
A Nassau County Probate Lawyer said that, an officer of the United Music Corporation was called as a witness by petitioner. It appears that the decedent had assigned to that corporation all of his interest in the composition, and the corporation agreed to pay specified royalties. Royalties were regularly paid during the decedent’s lifetime, and up to the end of June 1961. In August, 1961, the sum of $2,137.68 was paid to the estate, presumably for the period ending June 30th. The witness testified that royalties were being held by the corporation and that for the period July 1, 1961 to December 31, 1962, the accrued royalties amounted to $2,729.73. There was a lack of agreement among counsel as to how long the copyright still has to run, and definitive proof on that question was not submitted. It appears, however, that the copyright is still in existence. We do not have proof of the precise amount of accrued royalties on October 31, 1962. That figure was always obtainable by the administrator from United Music. The only figure near that date is the $2,729.73 accrued on December 31st, just two months later. Thus it is clear that in this hasty sale, the Ohio administrator sold for $2,500 the estate’s interest in accrued royalties of an approximately equal sum and also all of the estate’s future interests in the musical composition, the royalties, the copyright and any extension or renewals. If the sale is a bona fide sale, it was an incredible bargain for the purchaser, who not only bought nearly two thousand eight hundred dollars at a discount but all rights to future royalties.