Charles J. Brower died on April 15, 1954 leaving a last will and testament that were admitted to probate on April 30 of the same year. He was survived by his wife Helen Brower and his brother Willard T. Brower. After about 11 and 1/2 years, on October 18, 1965. Mrs. Bower filed an appeal under the Decedent Estate Law that contested the fourth, fifth and sixth paragraph of the will. Her claim was that in gives more than 50% of the testator’s estate to a religious association.
A New York Probate Lawyer says that Section 17 of the Decedent Estate Law says ‘No person shall, devise or bequeath more than one-half part of his or her estate, after the payment of his or her debts, and such devise or bequest shall be valid to the extent of one-half, and no more. The validity of a devise or bequest for more than such one-half may be contested only by a surviving husband, wife, child, descendant or parent…’
Mr. Bower had made his wife, his brother and his friend and attorney David G. McCullough executors of his estate. He gave to his wife $2,500 plus any earnings of the residue remainder of his estate, and she can get part of the principal up to $500 in a calendar year in case of illness. Upon his wife’s death or if his wife precedes him, his brother gets $1,000. $1,000 to be given to New Hackensack Dutch Reformed Church in memory of my father, William Henry Brower and my mother, Jane Augusta Brower. To Reformed Dutch Church, he bequests $1,000 in memory of his wife. The rest of the residuary estate is given to New Hackensack Dutch Reformed Church.
The New Hackensack Dutch Reformed Church as the residuary inheritor, contested that the widow’s claim should be stopped. Though that Mrs. Bower had not waived her right to will contest regarding the excessive gift to the church explicitly. There is also no final settlement of the estate until the widow dies. The gift to the church is still undisputedly more than 50%, which is the limit.
It was the court’s opinion that Mrs. Bower had the right to contest the excessive gift to the church. She can also raise that issue in a construction or accounting proceeding. The decision though, according to Manhattan Probate Lawyers, must wait for the final settlement of the account when the court will already have all the information to make the determination. Even though the petition was filed at a late date, it is still valid as there is no limit for the time to file.
The widow’s death also does not terminate the contest for the validity of the bequest. The widow’s legal representative has the power to continue the proceedings in behalf of her estate. The contest begins when a preferred class, like the wife of descendant questions the validity of the will and since is personal then it will survive her death. With the widow filing her objection in a timely manner and the amount exceeding 50% of the estate after paying the debts and fees, Queens Probate Lawyers said the balance undistributed was given by the court to the heirs of the deceased Charles J. Bower as intestate property.
Some people may think that 11 years is a long time to wait to file an appeal against a provision of a will, but sometimes with the devastation of losing a love one you really need that time. Skilled legal counsel knows when petitions need to be filed and when you are in this situation, you would need a respectable one to see to it that any right is not taken away from you.
Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates. They will also expedite any appeal that needs to be while considering your current state of mourning. They have lawyers with hearts. Any where you are in New York and Long Island, you can call them at 1-800 NY – NY- LAW, and know they are the people you can trust with you affairs.