Articles Posted in Trusts

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This is a petition to terminate a testamentary trust pursuant to EPTL 7-1.19. The trust was established under the will of a decedent, which was admitted to probate on January 23, 2004. Under her will, the testator left her residuary estate, consisting of her residence located at 2531 Ocean Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, in trust. The trustee was authorized to distribute the income to her daughters for their “maintenance, education, advancement, health, comfort or benefit, including but not limited to the need for a suitable residence of the two daughters.

Upon the death of the survivor of the two daughters, the trust terminates and the principal is distributed to the testator’s son, or, if he does not survive her sisters, to his children living at the testator’s death.

On February 18, 2005, the daughter entered into a contract to sell the Ocean Avenue property for $990,000. In April, 2005, the siblings entered into a stipulation allowing the sister to borrow $175,000, secured by a mortgage on the property, to enable her to buy another home. The mortgage was to be satisfied upon sale of the property and the amount used to satisfy the mortgage charged to the daughter’s share of the sales proceeds.

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There are three proceedings pending in the estate of the decedent: (1) a miscellaneous proceeding to declare the decedent’s Living Trust dated March 19, 2001 invalid; (2) a proceeding to probate an instrument dated March 19, 2001 as the decedent’s last will and testament; and (3) a proceeding by respondent as trustee of the decedent’s Living Trust dated March 19, 2001, to judicially settle his account for the period from March 19, 2001 to May 9, 2007. On July 1, 2010, the court appointed a guardian ad litem for one of the decedent’s daughters, in all three proceedings.

The decedent died on May 9, 2007, survived by four distributees: two daughters, a son; and a granddaughter, the only child of the decedent’s predeceased son. The propounded will pours over to the living trust. The living trust provides only for the son, specifically omits the two daughters, and does not mention the granddaughter.

The guardian ad litem has filed a preliminary report in which he details his findings to date and, based upon them, recommends that he continue to represent his ward’s interests in all three proceedings. The guardian ad litem reports that the daughter has alleged that the son exerted undue influence and fraud upon the decedent at a time when he was physically ill and depressed. The guardian ad litem states that, based on his investigation, he deems it appropriate to participate in the SCPA 1404 examinations in the probate proceeding and to continue to represent his ward’s interests in all three proceedings. The court agrees with his conclusions.

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This is an estate case where the proceeding raises an issue of virtual representation of unborn contingent remaindermen. The purpose of the virtual representation statute (SCPA 315) is to dispense with the necessity of service of process on necessary or proper parties.

The Testator was survived by his widow and one son. The son is unmarried. His unborn children are contingent remaindermen of two trusts.The first is the usual marital deduction A trust with power in the widow to appoint the principal. In default of the exercise of such power, the son is the remainderman. If he should predecease his mother, his unborn children are the contingent remaindermen. The second is a B trust. The widow and son share the income. Upon the death of the widow, the son receives the principal if then living; and if not, then his as yet unborn children are the remaindermen.

The interests of the unborn contingent remaindermen which may be adversely affected arises in this as in most cases not from the nature of the proceedings or of the trusts but from the predictable impact of the decree. It suffices simply to note that the sole assets of both trusts are shares of stock in a family corporation which represent a controlling interest in the hands of the trustee.

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Before the court is a motion for summary judgment filed in connection with petitions for the removal of fiduciaries MRK and TOM in the related estates of Mr. KJJ and Mrs. JJ.

BACKGROUND Decedents Mr. KJJ and Mrs. JJ were a husband and wife who tragically died together in an automobile accident on April 22, 2005. They were survived by their three adult sons, CC, VV and SS, movants herein. Both decedents executed wills on November 19, 1986, and both wills provide that in the event that Mr. KJJ or Mrs. JJ is not survived by a spouse, then Mrs. JJ’s brother, MRK, shall serve as Executor.

The wills were filed for probate on October 13, 2005 and admitted to probate on March 1, 2006. Letters testamentary in each estate issued to MRK on March 3, 2006. At the same time, MRK received letters of trusteeship in Mr. KJJ’s estate.

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This is a proceeding to construe and reform Article III, the residuary clause, of the last will and testament of BO, so as to enable the estate to qualify for an unlimited New York estate tax marital deduction. While an application to reform a will to enable the estate to qualify for a deduction for New York estate tax purposes and not federal may be uncommon, it is permissible. Matter of Glick, N.Y.L.J. Feb. 17, 1989, p. 22, col. 6 (Surr.Ct. New York Co.).

The decedent died on July 21, 1988 survived by a spouse and three children. His will, dated December 14, 1979, was duly admitted to probate on December 19, 1988.

Under Article III of the will the residuary estate, which comprises the entire estate with the exception of some personalty previously bequeathed to his wife, is divided into two trusts, Trust A and Trust B. Under Trust A, the decedent bequeathed in trust for his wife the following: A pecuniary amount equal to the maximum marital deduction allowable to my estate for Federal estate tax purposes ($250,000 or 50% of my adjusted gross estate, as the case may be, less any adjustment required for marital deduction gifts made by me during my lifetime), less the aggregate amount of marital deductions, if any, allowed for interests in property passing or which have passed to my wife otherwise than by the terms of this Article, and less also the amount if any, required to increase my taxable estate to the maximum amount as to which, considering all deductions and credits allowable to my estate, there will be no federal estate tax payable by reason of my death.

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A New York Probate Lawyer said this case is a contested probate proceeding wherein the petitioner, A, the decedent’s second wife, moves for an order pursuant to CPLR 3212 granting summary judgment admitting the proffered instrument dated 21 December 2005 to probate and dismissing the objections filed by three of the four of decedent’s children from his first marriage, X, Y and Z.

On 29 October 2009, the 89 year old decedent died. On 12 September 1984, he was married to petitioner A. An instrument purported to be his last will and testament has been submitted for probate. In his will, petitioner was named the executor. The propounded instrument leaves his entire estate to the petitioner as his surviving spouse and unless she predeceases them makes no provision for the respondents. However, an earlier will dated 29 March 1994, left decedent’s entire estate to objectants.

A New York Wills Lawyer said the respondents have filed objections to probate alleging that: (1) the alleged will was not duly executed as required by law; (2) the propounded instrument was not freely or voluntarily made or executed by the decedent, but was procured by fraud or undue influence practiced upon the decedent by the petitioner or others acting in concert with her; and (3) on the date of the making of the instrument, decedent was not of sound mind or memory and thus incompetent to make a will.

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The document sued upon is a Family Trust.

On 19 May 1999, a Family Trust, a revocable inter vivos trust, was created. It is a 29-page document with nine articles. A, the settlor, is the mother of plaintiff and defendant. A, and her husband, B, are the co-trustees.

A New York Probate Lawyer said that according to the Family Trust, its purpose is to hold property, which was attached to and made part of the agreement, together with such monies, securities and other assets as the trustee may thereafter at any time hold or acquire (said monies, securities and other assets, referred to collectively as the “Trust Estate”) for the purposes of providing income to the settlor during her lifetime, paying her funeral expenses, estate taxes, probate fees, legal and accounting fees related to her estate, satisfying any cash bequests, all inheritance taxes, funding a marital share deduction, providing income for the benefit of her husband or their children during her husband’s lifetime and upon his death, paying the balance of the Trust Estate to their children, per stirpes. Further, the Family Trust agreement provided that if A died, the balance of the Trust Estate would be distributed to her husband if he survived her, and that upon his death, or the settlor’s death if her spouse predeceased her, the trustee would pay the balance of the Trust Estate to the settlor’s children, per stirpes.

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In a discovery hearing held before the Surrogate’s Court of the City of New York located in Nassau County the estate is seeking to establish the existence of a leasehold interest in commercial real property and to enforce its provisions. A New York Probate Lawyer said the petitioner has submitted an application to the court for preliminary injunction.

Case Background

The decedent passed away on the 2nd of May, 2004 and is survived by three children, one who is the respondent in the case. A petition has been filed for probate of an instrument that was dated the 2nd of July, 2002.

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A man created a living trust. A living trust is one where all the man’s assets are put in a trust with a bank or trust company and the income earned by his assets will be paid out to the man himself. The problem with this living trust the man created was that he bought the trust document in a pre-printed fill-in-the-blank form: he never went to a lawyer to have the lawyer create a trust document for him, tailor-cutting the provisions of the document so that it would fit his circumstances.

The trust he created came in a document that was sent to him in the three-ring-binder contained a Certificate of Trust, and Affidavit of Trust, a Living Will, a property power of attorney, a health care power of attorney and a copy of the man’s will which was stapled. The man can just cut out and paste those provisions that he didn’t like and keep the provisions that he did like and wished to retain. Glued to the ring binder is a sticker that showed the name and copyright of the lawyer who created the fill-in-the blank trust and will. The three-ring binder is part of an estate-planning product that also includes a seminar, a handbook and a computer software program which allows the person who purchased the portfolio to create a will and print it.

A New York Probate Lawyer said the living trust was created sometime on April 30, 1996. On the same date, the man also executed a will. The man’s will provided that all of the properties of his estate which were included in the living trust will be revoked upon his death and the entirety of his estate will pass on to his dear friend. This provision was later amended by the testator before his death on September 9, 1996. The amended provided that only 99.75 per cent of the entire estate under the living trust will be given to his dear friend and the remaining .25 will pass on to another friend.

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The Facts:

A decedent was survived by his wife, an adult son who is the petitioner herein, and four adult grandchildren. A New York Probate Lawyer said the decedent’s wife is a person under disability and her interests are being represented by a guardian ad litem appointed for that purpose by the court. Although SCPA 1404 examinations were demanded by the respondents, the examinations were never conducted, the parties having promptly entered into settlement negotiations.

The propounded instrument bequeaths the entire estate to the decedent’s lifetime trust, which in turn leaves the entire estate to petitioner, to the exclusion of the surviving spouse and grandchildren. The parties have entered into a stipulation of settlement, subject to the court’s approval, which permits the will’s admission to probate, effectively guarantees the surviving spouse her elective share, and distributes the net estate after payment of debts, administration expenses, and the elective share, into two parts, one part to be distributed to the petitioner and the other to be divided equally among the grandchildren.

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