If a New York will contains language that is vague or subject to multiple interpretations, interested parties can initiate probate litigation to request that the Surrogate’s Court determine how the ambiguous language in the will should be construed. This type of litigation is called a “construction action.” The purpose of will construction is to determine the intent of the testator determined from a sympathetic reading of the will as a whole. The court will avoid looking to extrinsic evident to determine the testator’s intent, but will consider extrinsic evidence submitted by the litigants if necessary.
The decedent owned property at 815 Placek Drive, Johnson City, New York. In her will, she left that property to Michael Steflik. The will also stipulated that if the property at 815 Placek Drive was no longer a part of the estate because she sold it, then she bequeathed 30% of her estate to Michael Steflik. The also left percentages of her estate to several other different people. Augustine Steflik 15% Theresa Steflik 20% Richard, John, Joseph, Debra Steflik and Mary Louise Furlong 7% each.