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Court Rules on a Will Contest Matter


In the matter of the will of Mary Cairo’s estate, the grandson, Joseph L. Cairo, filed a contest claiming that the more than one-half of the remaining estate was assigned to charity. The litigation regarding this, the court found that the grandson was not eligible for this case as he is not to benefit from a successful contest. A New York Probate Lawyer got the information that Mr. Cairo was already been provided for by Ms. Cairo in her lifetime. His ineligibility was determined by the words in the will that said that she makes no bequest to her grandson for good and sufficient reasons.

Mr. Cairo, the grandson, after the decision appealed that the counsel fees and other fees be taken from the estate. The reason he presented was that in the process of his contest, the construction of the will was also done. Two of the charitable beneficiaries and the Attorney General countered this.

In an interpretation of the will, the court can allocate an amount that they deem reasonable for counsel fees and other expenses that had been incurred in the process. The Attorney General and the charitable beneficiaries argued that what happened was not a construction of the will and did not benefit the State. They made a case as well about the request not specifically stating that it is to understand the will. The question now that the court needs to determine is if the litigation involved a construction of the will according to a NYC Probate Lawyer.

The Surrogate Court’s decision was that the counsel fees and other expenses should be shouldered by Mr. Cairo. Their position is that the will had specifically disinherited the grandson. The Appellate Court hearing this case saw it differently. First, they do not agree with the attempt to differentiate a proceeding to understand a will from a trial where a will may be interpreted. The court stated that the title of the proceeding is not the one that determines the nature of it. They reversed the decision and granted that the counsel fees and other expenses be charged to the estate. The agreed with the decision of the Surrogate Court that the words of the will had explicitly expressed that the grandson is to be disinherited. Since they saw that in the litigation, the will was interpreted then, they determined the amount to be covered from how large the estate was and the success of the trial. The estate was not big and the trial was unsuccessful, so the Appellate court determined the sum of $750 for counsel fees plus $991.44 for other disbursements. So the total allowance allowed was $1,741.44.

Some people already feel down when their appeal is rejected by the Courts so when they are charged other fees for their contest, they sometimes just let it be and pay them. In this case, you will see that a good Will Contest Lawyer does not rest on one try. They appeal against a decision to get the result that is fair. They know that there are instances where a person though unsuccessful in their appeal can still claim some allowances from the estate.

If you are faced by a disinheritance from a family member in favor of a third party who is not even related, you should know that you have options under the law. You just need to determine if you are eligible. Stephen Bilkis & Associates NY Probate Lawyers will be the one to assist you in checking on this for you. We will also be with you every step of the proceedings. We can be reached online and at 1-800 NY – NY- LAW for an appointment, or you can walk in any of our offices all over New York.

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