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Court Rules on a Will Contest Matter


August 13, 1970, Julia Eckhart died leaving two children, Charlotte Eckart and Frank Darmody. In her will that was dated August 4, 1966, she left each of them the sum of $50 and the rest to Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. The will was admitted to probate and daughter, Ms. Eckart and Mr. Darmody submitted intent to contest the will. This is because of the size of the estate distributed by the will. New York Probate Lawyers say that in the Estates, Power and Trusts Law, gifts to a charitable institution should not be more than half of the estate if contested by a descendant or parent. The law further states that the person can only contest if they are to receive a monetary benefit if the contest is successful as the beneficiary of the will.

Being the children of the deceased is not questionable. What needs to be decided on is if they have the right because they will receive a pecuniary benefit. The executor’s point of view was that the children did not have the right as the will expressed that Mrs. Eckhart, the deceased, did not want to give her children more than the $50, she provided for each of them. He relied on the case of Joseph Cairo as an example. The Cairo case, a Staten Island Probate Lawyer states, had the specific words that said that the deceased did not wish to give the grandson, Joseph Cairo, anything from the estate. The grandson was not going to benefit from a successful contest.

In this matter, the deceased placed her relatives in different levels as her children got $50 inheritance while the others did not. There was nothing that specifically or expressly stated she wished they do not receive anything more than the $50, she had appropriated in her will. The $50 in this case is insignificant. It does not show the intent of the testatrix if she wished to take away inheritance from her children. The law takes out intention with its provision. It keeps only what is stated in the will.

The policy of Stare decisis, which is for a judge to respect prior instances and follow that example, does not apply to this case because they are different. It is also not a hard-and-fast rule because if there is a compelling reason or if there was a misinterpretation of the law, then they can deviate from the old decision. The exceptions also have limitations.

A Bronx Probate Lawyers also mentioned that there is Mortmain Act that checks how much a charitable organization can get so as not to deprive or cheat relatives and dependents of the testator. It is similar to the rule that prohibits a testator from disinheriting a spouse. This does not stop the testator fully from giving everything to charity as they can still place a ‘no contest’ clause that can make sure of it. This revision in the will is a way for the testator to dodge the rule. This modification on the will did not appear in the deceased will.

The order appealed from was reversed by the Court of appeals. The matter was given back to the Surrogates court. The costs were given to each party separately payable from the estate.

The law can still be misinterpreted and also the last will and testaments left by a relative or family member. If you need an order reviewed then what you need is Stephen Bilkis and Associates who can go through the case with you efficiency. They will also be the one to question any misconstrued part to make sure you get what should be yours.

Anywhere you are in New York or Long Island you can reach them at 1-800 NY – NY- LAW. Get a free consultation with them and you will know that you are going to be with a lawyer you can trust.

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