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Court Rules on a Will Contest Matter


In the mater of the last will and testament of Clara Louise Bonesteel, a petition was filed with the Appellate Court with in relation to the decision made in a jury trial. The last will and testament was disputed as not being a valid will for the decedent. The jury found that the last will and testament is legitimate and said that it can be entered into probate.

The case that is filed with the court is with regard to the challengers of the will to be able to get a copy of the stenographic minutes of the trial at the expense of the estate. The law states that a copy of the stenographer’s minutes may be supplied to the contestant and charged to the expense of the estate if they can determine that the contest was made in good faith. It does not matter if the contest was successful or unsuccessful as long as it was made in good faith. In the case of Byron’s will, the court decided that good faith is not to be established before the contest as it will promote prolonged trials because the person contesting the will is assured that the costs will be shouldered by the decedent’s estate. To determine good faith after the trial is a way to ensure that the contest is already in good faith because one will bear the cost otherwise.

In law, there is also a rule of stare decisis. This states that any court lower than the Appellate Court should follow the decision made already by the Appellate Court with regard to the same issues. This applies to other judges even if not from a lower court, but of course not a higher one. In the case regarding Harned’s will, the Surrogate Wingate of Kings County followed the decision of the Appellate Division of the First Department, there was no differing decision from his own Appellate Division in his department. A New York Probate Lawyer mentioned that the decisions of other Special Terms are not controlling. The judge at special term has the duty to follow a decision made by the Appellate Court of another division pending the decision of his own Appellate Division of the Court of Appeals offers a different ruling.

In this case, the court’s ruling is in favor of the proponent of the will. The Appellate Court upholds that and believes the same thing. It is also its opinion with all the particulars of the case at hand that the person contesting the will acted in good faith. There is no case from the Court of Appeals or from Appellate Court, Third Division, which contradicts the view expressed in relation to the Comerford’s will. The judge has said, from information acquired by Brooklyn Probate Lawyers, the counsel has not cited anything to counter the view on the Comerford’s will and even in his own research, he found out the same. In the Comerford’s trial, the decision of the Surrogate court to deny a contestant to charge the estate with the cost of the copy of the trial’s minutes was reversed on appeal. This being considered, the judge is bound to the same conclusion. The petition of the contestant was granted.

There may be fear of incurring more cost in contesting a will, but as the court has shown in this case as long as you can prove in the trial that the contest was done in good faith the cost will be granted to the estate. If you are unsure as to what shows this, Bronx Probate Lawyers will be able to help you determine how you can show it in court. They would not want you to give up your issue just because you do not know how to present it or if is not sure if it is valid.

If you have a will contest, or other probate matter, contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates. They will assess your case from the information that you provide and ensure that your rights are protected. If you have a question regarding any case in New York and Long Island, you can make an appointment with us through the internet or by calling 1-800 NY – NY- LAW. We also have offices all over New York.

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