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Court Rules on a Will Contest Matter


In the handwritten will of Mabel Alexander dated March 18, 1952, she denied that she is the mother of Marjorie Alexander and Bernard Alexander. A New York Probate Lawyer said that she stated that even though Marjorie and Bernard were raised as her children and were part of her family, they were not hers. She stated that she got a legal separation from her husband Benjamin Alexander, and she was just providing his room and board. She also included a statement that they did not live as man and wife after August 1950 when they got the decree of separation.

Marjorie, Bernard and Benjamin filed an objection against the submitted last will and testament. Soon after Benjamin died, and the executor of his will replaced him as the contestant. As the law states, since the right to contest is a property right, it survives the death of the person contesting. A Staten Island Probate Lawyer said the court ordered a trial for the disputed paternity of Marjorie and Bernard, and the possibility that Benjamin may also have an interest in the will of Mabel. In this trial, the only issue is to be addressed is whether Marjorie and Bernard are children of the decedent and not if they are legitimate or illegitimate.

Mabel was married three times. The first was ended by a divorce in 1907. The second marriage to Albert Norwalk was ended when Mabel divorced him in 1922. He claims to have fathered Marjorie. The last was to Benjamin Alexander, who asserts paternity to Bernard Alexander. Mabel got a decree of separation for this marriage.

A number of Mabel’s friends testified that she confided in them that she is not able to bear children, and the Marjorie and Bernard were not hers. They also said she did not seem to be pregnant before Bernard appeared. One of the witnesses said that her husband was entrusted Bernard’s adoption papers, but they were unable to find it. These two witnesses though, are named in the will. If the contest fails, they will benefit from it so a Suffolk County Probate Lawyer said that the court found them to be ineffective witnesses. Their testimonies are not considered. The court considers this preliminary trial as part of the probate so whoever is deemed as incompetent to witness in this is also not going to be part of the probate witnesses.

There was also the testimony of Albert Norwalk, who has testified convincingly that he is Marjorie’s father. He said he was present when she was born in Buffalo that he saw Marjorie being held by her mother. He mentioned he spoke to the medical staff that handled her case and paid the hospital expenses. He also testified that he and Mabel returned to their home with their child and her nurse.

Mabel lived and had her business at Noyack, Long Island for many years. Her neighbors there and people doing business there testified that she had consistently referred to Marjorie and Bernard as her children. In school and census records, she had always been registered as their mother. When she divorced Albert Norwalk, she called Marjorie as the daughter of Albert Norwalk and herself. In her life insurance application in 1912, she said she had one child. Mabel showed and acted like a mother to the children. A New York Probate Lawyer got information that she showed that she loved them and cherished them.

Evidence had shown that the rift between her and the children started when the children tried to get the amount left by John Irwin, Mabel’s father to her. Mabel and Benjamin, to get the funds themselves instead of to children, filed affidavit’s that Marjorie and Bernard were not their children but only got them as babies. In this action by Mr. Irwin, a New York Estate Lawyer says, showed he considered Marjorie and Bernard as his grandchildren.

The court determined Marjorie to have been born in 1910 and was twelve years old when Benjamin married Mabel. She lived with her mother before the marriage and after the marriage. The affidavits were obviously false. On his deathbed, Benjamin tried to correct what he had done with regard to the affidavits filed. He submitted a recanting affidavit Niagara County Surrogate’s court where they filed, they filed the nebulous sworn statement. This is believed to be the truth. The lawyer who drafted the official statement of Benjamin was hesitant to do so because it meant Benjamin was waving his right to his wife’s estate. The court determined that with all the evidence provided that Marjorie and Benjamin are the children of Mabel. She is their natural mother. Benjamin Alexander was deemed as having no right to contest the will as his executor, because he already has an interested party in the probate.

This may seem like fiction, but this situation happens in real life. There are some people who, even in their last will and testament show spite. At these instances, you will really need a Probate Lawyer who is very thorough in proving your case.

Stephen Bilkis & Associates have legal counsel who are very meticulous with the evidence in their cases. If you walk in any of our offices in New York, you will have people ready to assist you with any case in New York or Long Island. You can also contact us online or through 1-800 NY – NY- LAW.

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