Articles Posted in New York City

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In this estate case, the question for the determination of the Court is whether the codicil of March 8, 1956 revived the will of November 23, 1954 and a codicil thereto of December 20, 1954 which had been revoked by the will of July 31, 1955.

The proof adduced establishes that the propounded instruments were executed by decedent and subscribing witnesses in accordance with statutory requirements. The republication of decedent’s 1954 will by the 1956 codicil operated as a revocation of the will dated July 31, 1955. The absence of a revocation clause in the 1956 codicil does not change the result.

The Court holds that decedent validly revoked the instrument dated July 31, 1955 and reexecuted and republished the propounded instruments bearing dates November 23, 1954 and December 20, 1954 by the codicil dated March 8, 1956, and that at the time the decedent was of sound mind, fully competent to make a will and under no restraint. probate of the will of November 23, 1954 and the codicils of December 20, 1954 and March 8, 1956 is decreed. Proceed accordingly.n an action to invalidate two deeds and two general releases and to recover damages grounded on fraud and forgery, the plaintiff appeals from an order of the Supreme Court, Kings County, dated April 7, 1987, which, after a nonjury trial directed that judgment be entered in favor of the defendant.

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A New York Probate Lawyer said that, before the court is the first and final account of the Public Administrator for the estate of the decedent, who died intestate, a resident of Hempstead, on June 21, 1993, leaving one daughter, surviving. Limited letters of administration were issued to the Public Administrator on September 10, 1998 and modified on January 11, 2007 to enable the Public Administrator to collect the surplus money resulting from a foreclosure sale of decedent’s real property.

A Nassau Estate Litigation Lawyer said that, the account filed by the Public Administrator shows the receipt of $17,670.16 of estate principal, which was supplemented by income collected totaling $208.50. This resulted in total charges of $17,878.66. This amount was reduced by administrative expenses through September 30, 2009 in the amount of $2,946.75, leaving a balance of $14,931.91 on hand. The Public Administrator seeks approval of the accounting, approval of commissions, the fixing of fees for the services of the attorney and accountant, and authorization to distribute the net estate to the Nassau County Department of Social Services in full satisfaction of its claim in the amount of $177,020.06 against the decedent’s estate. In addition, the court must release the administrator from the surety bond.

A New York Will Lawyer said the issue in this case is whether the attorney’s fee should be granted by the court.

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A New York Probate Lawyer said that, before the court is the first and final account of the Public Administrator for the estate of the decedent, who died intestate, a resident of Hempstead, on June 21, 1993, leaving one daughter, surviving. Limited letters of administration were issued to the Public Administrator on September 10, 1998 and modified on January 11, 2007 to enable the Public Administrator to collect the surplus money resulting from a foreclosure sale of decedent’s real property.

A New York Will Lawyer said that, the account filed by the Public Administrator shows the receipt of $17,670.16 of estate principal, which was supplemented by income collected totaling $208.50. This resulted in total charges of $17,878.66. This amount was reduced by administrative expenses through September 30, 2009 in the amount of $2,946.75, leaving a balance of $14,931.91 on hand. The Public Administrator seeks approval of the accounting, approval of commissions, the fixing of fees for the services of the attorney and accountant, and authorization to distribute the net estate to the Nassau County Department of Social Services in full satisfaction of its claim in the amount of $177,020.06 against the decedent’s estate. In addition, the court must release the administrator from the surety bond.

Westchester County Probate Lawyers said the issue in this case is whether the attorney’s fee should be granted by the court.

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A New York Probate Lawyer said this is a case of accounting of the Public Administrator, where the issue of kinship was referred to a court attorney/referee pursuant to SCPA 506. All parties stipulated to waive the report of the referee and to allow kinship issues to be decided by the court based upon the transcripts of the hearing, the documentary evidence, and the arguments made by the attorneys for the claimants and the guardian ad litem representing the interests of unknown distributees.

A New York Will Lawyer said that the decedent died intestate, a resident of Nassau County, in May 2006. Letters of administration issued to the Public Administrator in January 2007. The account filed by the Public Administrator shows the receipt of $354,397.29 of estate assets. There are three alleged maternal cousins of the decedent and seven alleged paternal first cousins of the decedent.

Long Island Probate Lawyers said that in order to establish their rights as distributees, claimants in a kinship proceeding must prove: (1) their relationship to the decedent; (2) the absence of any person with a closer degree of consanguinity to the decedent; and (3) the number of persons having the same degree of consanguinity to the decedent or to the common ancestor through which they take. Claimants who allege to be distributees of the decedent have the burden of proof on each of these elements. The quantum of proof required to prove kinship is a fair preponderance of the credible evidence.

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A New York Probate Lawyer said that, before the court is the first and final account of the Public Administrator for the estate of the decedent, who died intestate, a resident of Hempstead, on June 21, 1993, leaving one daughter, surviving. Limited letters of administration were issued to the Public Administrator on September 10, 1998 and modified on January 11, 2007 to enable the Public Administrator to collect the surplus money resulting from a foreclosure sale of decedent’s real property.

A Nassau Estate Litigation Lawyer said that, the account filed by the Public Administrator shows the receipt of $17,670.16 of estate principal, which was supplemented by income collected totaling $208.50. This resulted in total charges of $17,878.66. This amount was reduced by administrative expenses through September 30, 2009 in the amount of $2,946.75, leaving a balance of $14,931.91 on hand. The Public Administrator seeks approval of the accounting, approval of commissions, the fixing of fees for the services of the attorney and accountant, and authorization to distribute the net estate to the Nassau County Department of Social Services in full satisfaction of its claim in the amount of $177,020.06 against the decedent’s estate. In addition, the court must release the administrator from the surety bond.

The issue in this case is whether the attorney’s fee should be granted by the court.

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A New York Probate Lawyer said a woman died survived by one sister and thirteen descendants of pre-deceased siblings. The deceased woman’s nephew, the Executor filed a Verified Petition to Probate a Last Will and Testament, dated April 17, 1996 in which he was the nominated Executor and in which he and his two siblings were named as the sole residuary beneficiaries. The Executor was granted Preliminary Letters Testamentary on October 29, 2009. Included in his Petition for Probate was an assertion by the decedent’s Executor that, after a diligent search and inquiry there exists no will, codicil or other testamentary instrument of the decedent later in date. The Petition also listed only the decedent’s one surviving sibling, and the Petitioner and his two sisters, omitting ten of the decedent’s distributees, all cousins of the Executor.

A New York Will Lawyer said the decedent’s one surviving sister and the ten distributees left out of the Petition for Probate, six nieces and nephews and four great-nieces and nephews of the decedent (Objectants), jointly retained their counsel and conducted an investigation that ultimately determined that the April 17, 1996 will probated by the Executor was not the decedent’s Last Will and Testament. Evidence was adduced that the decedent had executed a Last Will and Testament on July 11, 2000 and subsequently intentionally destroyed it. As the July 11, 2000 will revoked all prior wills of the decedent, its destruction would, in the absence of a subsequent will, result in the decedent’s property passing pursuant to the laws of intestacy and the Executor not being named as executor. Accordingly, on December 1, 2009, the Objectants filed a Verified Answer to the Executor’s Petition for Probate and Objections to the Probate of the April 17, 1996 Will.

Manhattan Probate Lawyers said the Executor did not concede to the validity of the July 11, 2000 will, and estate litigation commenced. The Objectants’ counsel secured affidavits from the draftsman of the later will, the attorney who oversaw its later destruction, and witnesses to the will’s execution and destruction. These parties were then deposed by the Executor’s counsel to ascertain if the decedent was mentally competent, under undue influence, duress, or if her actions were the product of fraud. No evidence of a lack of testamentary capacity was adduced at the five depositions conducted by the Executor’s counsel. However, the Executor continued to challenge the validity of the later will and claim that the decedent lacked testamentary capacity at its execution, causing a subpoena duces tecum to be issued seeking the decedent’s medical records.

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A New York Probate Lawyer said that, in this estate, there are two separate proceedings to fix legal fees. In the first, the executor, the decedent’s nephew, petitions to fix and determine the reasonable legal fee and disbursements to be awarded to his former counsel, at an amount less than the $14,200 in legal fees and $1,415.37 in disbursements billed and sought by the said counsel. The counsel cross petition for an order fixing his fees and disbursements in the billed amount. The second proceeding pursuant to SCPA 2110, commenced by him, seeks an award of $9,590, including $340 in disbursements, for legal services rendered to a former client, the decedent’s daughter-in-law. The latter opposes the petition and cross-petitions to fix and determine his reasonable attorney’s fees and disbursements contending, inter alia, that the legal fees, to the extent valid, should be borne by the estate. The parties agreed to submit the issues in each proceeding on the papers, without a hearing.

A New York Will Lawyer said that, the decedent died on August 4, 2006. Letters testamentary issued on October 30, 2006. The decedent’s daughter-in-law and the decedent’s two grandchildren, the decedent’s only distributees, each receive one-third of the residuary estate. The share of each grandchild is to be held in trust until that grandchild reaches the age of 30 years. Although the counsel’s representation of the executor in connection with this estate commenced on or about August 11, 2006 upon the filing of the petition for letters testamentary, the executor did not execute a retainer agreement, setting an hourly rate of $250, until January 14, 2007. The probate petition indicated that the estate consisted of personal property valued at $137,000 and certain Bronx realty valued at $500,000. Thereafter, the executor filed an affidavit increasing the value of the personal property to $154,360.56 and the realty to $569,000.

A Bronx Estate Administration Lawyer said that, the counsel’s legal bills reveal that as of the date of the filing of the probate petition, he was in possession of a deed of the Bronx realty which was executed by the decedent on May 21, 2000, over six years prior to her death. The deed conveyed the realty to the decedent’s daughter-in-law while reserving to the decedent a life estate. Upon learning of the decedent’s death, the attorney who prepared and oversaw the execution of the deed provided it to him, who included the value of the realty in the probate petition. Following the admission of the will to probate, the executor and the counsel began collecting assets; in particular, they sought a date of death appraisal of the Bronx realty and personal property contained therein, and contacted brokers in order to sell the realty. The counsel’s bill reflects his involvement in meetings at the Bronx realty with the executor and appraisers, in obtaining brokers and receiving proposals from interested buyers and in drafting contracts of sale, although no closing ever occurred. During this time, it appears that disputes arose between the executor and the decedent’s daughter-in-law or her children concerning the sale of certain personal property, and the sales price of the Bronx realty. In addition, when the decedent’s granddaughter reached the age of 30, she requested through her mother a $10,000 distribution and, in response, the executor sent $6,000 instead of the $10,000 requested. These events prompted a January 3, 2008 letter from the counsel to the executor stating, inter alia, that he concurred with her recent rejection of an offer on the Bronx realty, and the executor should issue a check in the requested amount to the granddaughter and provide him and her with an accounting and cancelled checks for all expenses.

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A New York Probate Lawyer said the decedent died and her only distributee, other than the proponent and the objectant, is her daughter. The testamentary assets are valued at $6,000,000. The propounded instrument establishes a trust for the benefit of the proponent equal to the unified credit. It also contains legacies of $25,000 for each of the decedent’s seven grandchildren, including the objectant’s three children. The residuary estate is bequeathed outright to the proponent and the remainder interest in the unified credit trust is bequeathed to the decedent’s daughter or, if she does not survive the proponent, to the daughter’s four children. Paragraph Seventh of the instrument explains that no greater provisions have been made for the objectant because the decedent had provided for his children during her lifetime and because he will receive benefits in the future in the practice of the law commenced by the decedent’s husband in 1947. The propounded instrument contains an attestation clause and its execution was supervised by the proponent, an attorney.

Nassau County Probate Lawyers said in support of the motion, the proponent has submitted an affidavit from his attorney, an affidavit from the sole surviving attesting witness indicating that the instrument was executed with the required statutory formalities, and the deposition of the witness. The attesting witnesses couple who lived in the same apartment house as the decedent and the proponent and had been their friends for many years. The witness husband predeceased the decedent. The witness wife was 84 years of age when she was deposed. Understandably, she did not recall all of the particulars of the execution ceremony that had occurred more than a decade prior to the deposition. However, she did recollect that the execution ceremony took place in either her own apartment or the decedent’s apartment; that the only people who were present were herself, her husband, the decedent and the proponent; and that she knew that the decedent was executing a will and that she was acting as an attesting witness.

Here, a Staten Island Probate Lawyer said the motion for summary judgment is predicated upon the deposition which occurred prior to the filing of objections and, thus, prior to the provisions of Surrogate Court’s Procedure Act (SCPA) coming into play. Moreover, the two primary beneficiaries under the will support the instant motion. Thus, the only beneficiaries who could conceivably be prejudiced by not having received formal notice of the objections pursuant to SCPA are the grandchildren, who each receive a $25,000 legacy. One of the grandchildren is a minor. If jurisdiction had been obtained over him pursuant to SCPA, it would appear that the proceeding would be burdened with the expense of having a guardian ad litem appointed for him. However, it does not appear that either the objectant or any of the grandchildren will be prejudiced by the court’s entertaining this motion prior to the service of the SCPA citation upon the grandchildren notifying them that objections have been filed. To the extent that the motion is granted, the determination will inure to the grandchildren’s benefit. To the extent that the motion is denied, they would still have the right to participate in all future pretrial procedures or proceedings, including a motion for summary judgment based upon evidence adduced at such procedures. Considering these facts, the court, in the exercise of its discretion, concludes that it may entertain the instant motion notwithstanding the fact that SCPA jurisdiction has yet to be obtained over the grandchildren. Of course, if the objectant were the party who was seeking summary judgment, the court would not entertain the motion until SCPA jurisdiction had been completed. This is so because SCPA provides that beneficiaries who were not served with the SCPA citation would not be bound by the determination denying probate to the propounded instrument.

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A New York Probate Lawyer said in this Will Contest proceeding, the decedent died in May 2006, survived by his wife and their two children, the proponent and the objectant. The wife suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Her cousin and an attorney, were appointed her guardians pursuant to Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law and they have appeared for her in this proceeding. They filed a notice of election on her behalf.

Queens Probate Lawyers said that the proponent filed the petition for probate in June 2006 and jurisdiction was obtained over all necessary parties in August 2006. The propounded will leaves nothing to objectant, allegedly because the decedent believed that she had converted assets worth $3 million from him and from the wife by use of a power of attorney they had given her. In fact, he pressed criminal charges against her which resulted in her plea of guilty to a Class A misdemeanor. The objectant filed objections to probate; however, she never appeared for her deposition in this proceeding, nor did she ever produce any documents demanded by petitioner. Her initial reason for seeking to delay her deposition was that doing so would violate her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. However, she never appeared for deposition even after the conclusion of the criminal matter when she no longer had a claim of constitutional privilege. She then averred that she was suffering from a psychological condition which prevented her from being deposed. Being unconvinced of that contention, the court, by decision and order, granted the summary judgment motion to the extent that objectant’s objections of fraud and undue influence, upon which the objectant bears the burden of proof, were dismissed.

A New York Will lawyer said regarding petitioner’s motion for summary judgment, the proponent of a summary judgment motion must make a prima facie showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law, tendering sufficient evidence to demonstrate the absence of any material issues of fact. Failure to make such prima facie showing requires a denial of the motion, regardless of the sufficiency of the opposing papers. Once this showing has been made, the burden shifts to the party opposing the motion for summary judgment to produce evidentiary proof in admissible form sufficient to establish the existence of material issues of fact which require a trial of the action. Summary judgment in contested probate proceedings is appropriate where a contestant fails to raise any issues of fact regarding execution of the Will, testamentary capacity, undue influence or fraud.

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This action stems from plaintiff’s attempt to purchase certain real property, located at Bronx County (“subject property”), in August 2005, from four members of a family.

New York Probate Lawyers said one of the members, a lady, died testate in February 1986. Under the terms of her Will, her husband had a life interest in certain properties, but not the subject property, only access to its garage. Article Sixth of the Last Will and Testament provided that their son had a life income interest in the subject property which was to be held in Trust by Trustees. The son’s daughters were allowed to occupy the first floor and second floor, respectively, and, upon the son’s death, the subject property was to be transferred jointly to the daughters, decedent’s granddaughters. The Will also provided that, upon the husband’s death, the son would substitute as Co-Executor and Co-Trustee in his place. The other Co-Executor and Co-Trustee attorney was never a party to the sale of the subject property. Further, the husband and the lawyer never obtained Letters of Co-Trusteeship for the Article Sixth Trust, and only the husband took action as an unauthorized Trustee with regards to the subject property.

A Bronx Conty Probate attorney said that Probate Petition and Notice of Probate were filed with the Surrogate’s Court in April 1988, naming the husband and the lawyer as Co-Executors and Co-Trustees. It also requested that Letters of Testamentary be issued to them and that Letters of Trusteeship be issued to them under the Article Third and to the lawyer under the Article Eleventh. Thereafter, the Surrogate’s Court issued Letters of Co-Testamentary and Co-Trusteeship to the Petitioners. However, the Letters of Trusteeship were limited to Articles Third and Eleventh Trusts. The Surrogate’s Court provided a letter to the GAL stating that no application for Letters of Trusteeship was issued under Article Sixth of the Will.

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