It is a sad occurrence when children are orphaned by both parents in a very short span of time. This is what happened when a modern painter of high reputation, died on February 25, 1970 followed by his wife on August 26, 1970. They left two children. The daughter was already of age and the son Christopher was still a minor. Before the mother died, she already gave the court her petition to contest the will as the children’s guardian saying the bequest to the charitable institution was more than one-half of the estate.
The term of the will, from what a Nassau County Estate Administration Lawyer found was that the wife gets $250,000 plus their house and all its contents. Five of his paintings are to be given to the Tate Gallery, London. The remaining part of his estate is bequeathed to an art foundation, a non-profit organization. It contained additional stipulation where if his wife dies, or they subsequently die, their children get $250,000 and the house in New York, including all its contents in equal shares.
The executors still followed through with the proceedings to determine if the claim for the will contest is valid. The daughter appeared with her lawyer and the son with his guardian. The court has found out the paintings of the testator is valued at several millions of dollars. There is another court hearing in which the contract executed for one-eighth of the decedents works was valued at $1,800,000 was still being contested as not enough. The court has said it is definitely more than half of the residuary estate of the testator that was assigned to charity. A Nassau County Estate Litigation Lawyer said the court gave out is a decision in favor of the children on July 13, 1970.
In the law, the spouse, children, parents, even grandchildren of a decedent can contest a will if the bequest to charity is more than one-half of the residuary estate, granted that they will be gaining financially with a successful contest. A New York Probate Lawyer says this is not an assurance though, because if the will expressly state that the testator wants to disinherit his children, even if they are infants then they will be disinherited. The question before was why when a person is alive, they are not allowed to neglect their children but when they are dead, they can. This was addressed by another rule through the Family Maintenance Act were in the Surrogate Court will have the power to enforce reasonable provisional support in all solvent decedent’s estate. This means that the children who have lost their parents will not automatically be public charges. The child will be able to support himself until he reaches the age of maturity or can support himself, whichever comes first. In this case, it means that the court will take equitable portions from each gift to support the minor child. The remainder of the will upon the child reaching legal age or when he can already support himself will be distributed according to the will.
A child losing both parents is a sad affair, although the law works to protect the interest of minor children, it is imortant to have qualified counsel who is looking out for the intention of the decedent and his minor children who are not able to fend for themselves. They know that proper administration also means making sure it is fair for everyone.
In different areas in New York, you have Stephen Bilkis & Associates offices that can assist you. You can be assured that your affairs will be handled impartially, and the rule of law followed. You can set an appointment with them at 1-800 NY – NY- LAW.