Estate of Fasano involved the interpretation of a decedent’s will and whether his wife had effectively disclaimed her interest in his estate. In New York, a disclaimer of an interest in an estate must be in writing, signed by the disclaimant, and filed with the court within nine months of the decedent’s death. It is important to ensure that the disclaimer meets these requirements to be valid. The disclaimer should clearly state that the disclaimant is renouncing their right to an interest in the estate. It should also include the name of the decedent and the specific interest being disclaimed.
The decedent in this case was Joseph Fasano, who passed away on September 23, 2019. He was survived by his wife, Patricia Fasano, and several siblings. The decedent’s will was executed on May 6, 2016, and named his wife as the sole beneficiary of his estate. However, in the event that his wife predeceased him, the will directed that his estate be divided equally among his siblings.
After the decedent’s death, the executor of his estate filed a petition for probate of the will. The decedent’s wife then filed a disclaimer of her interest in the estate, which stated that she disclaimed any and all interest in the estate of the decedent.
The executor of the estate then filed a petition seeking a determination as to whether the decedent’s wife had effectively disclaimed her interest in the estate. The petition alleged that the disclaimer was not valid and that the wife was not entitled to the decedent’s estate under the terms of the will.
The Surrogate’s Court of the State of New York considered the petition and ultimately determined that the decedent’s wife had not effectively disclaimed her interest in the estate. The court found that the disclaimer was not sufficient to meet the requirements of New York law for a valid disclaimer of interest in an estate.
The court cited New York Estates, Powers, and Trusts Law (EPTL) § 2-1.11, which provides that a disclaimer of a right to an estate must be in writing, signed by the disclaimant, and filed with the court within nine months of the decedent’s death. The court found that the disclaimer filed by the decedent’s wife did not comply with these requirements, as it was not signed by her and was filed after the nine-month deadline had expired.
The court also rejected the argument that the decedent’s wife had effectively disclaimed her interest in the estate by filing a small estate affidavit. The court noted that a small estate affidavit can only be used in certain circumstances, such as when the value of the decedent’s assets is less than $50,000 and there are no real property assets. In this case, the value of the estate exceeded the $50,000 threshold, and therefore a small estate affidavit was not an appropriate means of disclaiming her interest.
The court ultimately determined that the decedent’s wife was entitled to the entire estate under the terms of the will. The court ordered that the estate be distributed to her accordingly.
Estate of Fasano highlights the importance of having a valid will and understanding the legal requirements for estate administration in New York. It also illustrates the potential complications that can arise when a beneficiary attempts to disclaim their interest in an estate.
One potential lesson from the case is the importance of having a properly executed and valid will. The decedent in this case had a will that clearly stated his intentions for the distribution of his assets. However, due to the confusion over the validity of the disclaimer filed by his wife, his estate ended up in litigation. By having a valid will in place, individuals can help avoid the potential for legal challenges to their estate and ensure that their assets are distributed according to their wishes.