Published on:

Court Rules on a Will Contest Matter


In the matter of Mary Cairo’s will, a question has been raised whether Joseph L. Cairo her grandson has the right to raise a dispute against the terms for the distribution of the will. The decedent named three different charities as the beneficiary of the remaining part of her estate. This is after her sister, Elizabeth Jennings, gets her cooperative house and all its furnishings, including personal property. In the will, according to a New York Probate Lawyer, she says that if her sister dies before her then her share will also be divided equally between the three charities. The sixth article of the will specifically said “I make no bequest to my grandson, Joseph L. Cairo, and I make no bequests to my daughters-in-law, Antoinette Cairo and Audrey Cario, for good and sufficient reason.”

That in the interpretation of a will, the first rule that the court follows is to determine the actual intention of the decedent. The second rule is to establish such an intent from will as a whole and not just part. The will undisputedly show that Mary Cairo wanted to leave the bulk of her estate to charity. Not only with the bequest but even with the provision that if her sister predeceased her, the bequest to her sister will go to the charities. To make it clear, she even named Joseph L. Cairo and others in her will and stated she is not giving them anything.

This was the basis for Joseph L. Cairo’s argument that he has the right to contest the bequest to charity. He says that since he was specifically mentioned then he has the right. Manhattan Probate Lawyers said that by law there are qualifications that must be met to determine a person’s right to contest a bequest to charity. The first is if the gift is more than one-half of the residuary estate. It can only be objected to by people who stand to benefit from a successful contest. This is where the intent of the decedent’s intention comes in. In her will, she showed that she did not want Joseph Cairo to have any part of her will. She wanted her estate to go to her sister and charity. The courts declaring that if they allow Joseph Cairo to contest, then it will be like saying it is possible for him to get something from the estate which is not what Mary Cairo wanted. IT is the court’s decision that Joseph Cairo does not have standing to contest the will as to the disposition to charity. He is also charged $10 personally.

This case was considered as one of the benchmark cases when dealing with terrorem clauses or no-contest clauses. Often, the decedents include them when they want their beneficiaries to have no problems getting their share. In interpreting the will, you will need Queens Probate Lawyers, who can get your side across clearly and make sure that it is considered.

In this type of case, you could be anyone. You can be the person being disinherited so you would need a quality lawyer, who can fight for your right if they determine that you have one to the estate. Quality legal counsel can make sure the proceedings is according to the will and the law and that your right to benefit is considered. Stephen Bilkis & Associates has the best of them. If you find yourself in this position, or if you are unsure where you stand in a will, walk into any of our offices in New York. We handle cases from New York and Long Island. You can also contact us online or by calling 1-800 NY – NY- LAW.

Contact Information