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Court interprets Will Document


A New York Probate Lawyer said that the records reflect that these two cases involves matters of probate which was resolved by the court accordingly. In the first probate proceeding, Paragraph ‘Fifth’ of testatrix’ will reads: ‘Enclosed in the same envelope with this Will are two sealed envelopes addressed to my four sons jointly. These letters contain information as to my wishes for the disposition of certain items of personal property. It do not bind my Executors by these wishes but ask they give consideration to them.’ One of the letter referred to, dated and simply signed ‘Mamma’, is a moving personal expression of her deep love and affecting for and abiding faith in her four sons. It makes no mention of her property. The other letter, undated and unsigned, suggests distribution of certain items of personal property. Petitioner presents both letters for the Court’s consideration as possibly incorporated in the will by reference.

As stated in the will, testatrix’ letters to her sons, her nominated executors of the estate, were not to bind them. Consideration for her wishes was all she asked. Her unattested memoranda of desire and expectation are intimately personal in their nature and are couched in terms of love and suggestion, but not of command. Neither her short and concise will nor the letters themselves evidence any intention to bring into the former the mass of detail contained in the latter which, if introduced, would change nothing and would not legally affect the administration or distribution of her estate. Accordingly, the first alternative prayer for relief, granting probate to the attested instrument together with the letters referred to in paragraph ‘Fifth’ thereof, is denied; the second alternative prayer for relief, admitting to probate only the attested instrument, is granted. Settle decree on notice.

A New York Estate Lawyer said that in the second contested probate proceeding, the executor appeals from an order of the Surrogate’s Court, dated February 8, 1988, which denied his motion to set aside a stipulation of settlement and which granted the objectant’s cross motion for leave to enter a money judgment in the principal sum of $20,000.

Westchester County Probate Lawyers said that sometime, a stipulation of settlement was entered into between the executor and the objectant daughter of the decedent. The parties agreed, in open court, that the daughter would withdraw all of her objections to the probate of the will of the decedent, with prejudice, and that the executor would pay her the sum of $20,000 with interest from October 27, 1987. It was further stipulated that, if the entire settlement sum was not paid on or before September 30, 1988, a judgment for the unpaid balance plus interest could be entered against the executor without further application or notice to the court. In that event, a mortgage and note on real property owned by the executor personally could be “entered” to secure payment. The stipulation further provided that, if the payment were not timely made, the objections to probate could be reinstated and the matter could proceed to trial.

Suffolk County Probate Lawyers said it is well settled that a stipulation of settlement made in open court is binding upon the parties thereto, absent fraud, collusion, mistake or accident or other grounds of a similar nature. In the instant matter, the executor has failed to establish that he, a practicing attorney for about 29 years, was unable to understand the clear and distinct terms of the stipulation. Indeed, a review of the record clearly reflects that the executor understood the terms and agreed to them. There is no evidence to support the executor’s contention that the Surrogate’s Chief Law Assistant and the objectant coerced him into entering into the stipulation. We find absolutely no evidence of fraud, mistake or collusion in the execution of the stipulation.

Courts are faced with many kinds of cases, including those of estate administration, estate litigation, will contest and other concerns involving the estate of a decedent. In such circumstances, it is important for us to know and be aware of the extent of our interest over the subject matter of the proceeding in order for us to be able to secure the legal remedies available to us. Hence, we may seek the services of legal experts. Stephen Bilkis & Associates, with offices located throughout New York, its Kings County Estate Lawyers or its New York Probate Attorneys are willing to extend aid and render legal assistance to those who seek it.

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