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Court Rules on a Will Contest Matter


With an Estate amounting to almost two million dollars, E. Louise Grupp died in September 25, 1992. The will that was given for probate was only dated two weeks before Mr. Grupp died. The will was dated September 11, 1992. The executors who wear named in the will were Joan E. Maloney, Esq., and Eleanor G. Dunn. There was an older will filed with the court that was dated July 9, 1992. Interested parties had examined the witnesses to the will.

The will dated September 11, 1992 sets up the $300,000 trust for Ms. Nitterauer and places another $150,000 in trust for her sons. Aside from that she gets personal effects and the testator’s house. From what Brooklyn Probate Lawyers gathered, the remaining part of the estate of the deceased goes to the Manufacturers and Traders Trust Company as trustee for the Buffalo Foundation to be held as a perpetual charitable fund in memory of Mrs. Grupp and her late husband. Nine charities are assigned as income beneficiaries of fund assets in various percentages totaling 95% of net income, with the recipients of the remaining 5% to be selected by the Foundation. If the foundation fails to qualify as a charity or any of the other named organizations then the trustee will select from qualifying charities.

A terrorem clause was also in this will. That if anyone contests the probate or any part of the will, their interest will be forfeited, and it will be treated like that person died before the testator.

The court had said that they have to determine if that will dated September 11 will be treated as the will for Mrs. Grupp. According to a New York Probate Lawyer, it is the Surrogate court that determines the validity of a will. The will is not admitted if there is the lack of capacity, lack of due execution or undue influence. The courts typically refuse to address the ‘no contest’ clause before the probate. The court will interview the will witnesses and the lawyer. The Surrogate Court determined that is the will for Mrs. Grupp.

The terrorem clause was not very clear. This gives the petitioner an additional risk. It does not say specifically if all the people in the will be disinherited or only the person who opposed the will. A Bronx Probate Lawyers said that the court had good and compelling reason to deviate from the Davis rule. There were several differences with the Davies case. There were also concerns that the most-recent will is totally different from the planning goals of the testatrix who was to save on estate taxes to increase the legacies to certain individuals. The court was moving towards construction. In this way, they can ascertain the intent of the testator as to his will. It must be in the will itself.

Mrs. Grupp had intended for the charities to benefit as it is also showing on the prior will. As with the ‘no contest’ clause, they determined that if the deceased really wanted for all parties to be deprived, then she would have added words to that effect. The court is concerned about if Mrs. Grupp wanted even the charities to forfeit if the will is questioned. The court determined that the ‘no contest’ clause will not include the charities if in case the will was questioned as in previous will it has always been part and always first.

The last will and testament may be ambiguous at times, and sometimes you have questions which one will apply. Stephen Bilkis and Associates can assist you in the determination and give you expert legal advice. They will go through the step by step probate with you to make sure you are getting what should be for you. They will make sure you understand and see to it that what should be given to you is given to you.

At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, we have the best legal team anywhere in New York or Long Island. We know it is hard to get what is due to you when other people do not have your best interest at heart, we do. To get a free consultation call us at 1-800 NY – NY- LAW.

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