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Court Rules on a Will Contest Matter


The case regarding Genevieve Tisdale’s estate is about getting a jury trial in connection to the revocable trust executed by her at the same time with her last will and testament. Ms. Tisdale died on October 6, 1995. It is said that her will dated December 15, 1994 was executed with about $2.1 million revocable trust. The estate in the will was under $400,000. The trust fund is the one to be used for estate taxes and other expenses. The estate is divided to different beneficiaries, including charities. The bequest ranged from $10,000 to $200,000. There was an amendment made to the cash gifts made on July 31, 1995.

Michael L. McDermott was the draftsman of both the will and the trust. He is also named as the guardian of the net estate except the tangibles. He is to allocate the state according to the will. If the trust fails, the will also is refers to its terms. Mr. McDermott, a New York Probate Lawyer mentioned, is an Illinois lawyer not admitted in New York. Three months before the testatrix signed the will was the first time that they had met. This issue was already submitted to court.

Five of the family beneficiaries, which are all nieces and nephews, petitioned the court to withhold the trust in both proceedings after the will enter probate. They also asked that in both cases, there be a jury trial on their protest about the execution, capacity, undue influence and fraud. The recipients particularly object to, allegedly, the charitable beneficiaries reflecting Mr. McDermott’s choices and not the decedent’s. They cited the provision for twenty-five percent of the trust remainder is distributable to Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, which is Mr. McDermott’s alma mater. Twenty-five percent of the trust remainder is given to the Evans Scholars Foundation where Mr. McDermott is a trustee. Twenty-five percent of the trust remainder is gifted to National Louis University located in the Chicago suburb where Mr. McDermott lives. Lastly, $250,000 is distributable to Misericordia Home in Chicago. They also claim that Ms. Tisdale is your typical New Yorker, who has lived in the Upper East side of Manhattan most of her adult life.

According to Westchester County Probate Lawyers, the contest is sure to have a jury trial. The question is if it is available to the revocable trust. The main reason why people go for the revocable trust is because, for the most part, the Court is not involved in the administration of the estate. Contrary to wills, in revocable trusts do not require sending out notices, they however, give time of a few months for people to appear or contest it. Once it enters probate is the time that notices are sent out. Once in probate they will also have time to contest the will. The law expressly grants probate proceedings a jury trial but not appeals to set aside another instrument. There are cases like reclaiming a property that is given a jury. A trust is not equitable so cannot be admitted to a trial by jury.

It is also said that in trying the case for the will and the trust, will have identical issues to tackle. To avoid any unnecessary and impractical proceedings, with the two having the same provisions it is better have them tried at the same time. If or the other is tried first, there will have a profound effect on the hearing for the one tried later. Long Island Probate Lawyers also says that in hearing the two as one it will deter underhanded acts by people trying to get what they want. The court then denies the petition to set aside the revocable trust.

People may get tricked by people to get something from them. It also applies to people who are executing the will. As the family of the decedent it is much better that you have a skilled legal counsel who will protect your rights. One who knows his way in the proceedings so your presentation of your side is not seen as a sneaky way to get the money for yourself.

For help going through the whole proceeding with you and help you understand what is happening and lay the options for you, you can set an appointment with Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We have offices all over New York and you can also contact them online or at 1-800 NY – NY- LAW. We will handle cases from New York and Long Island.

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