Published on:

Court Decides Probate Jurisdiction Issue


This is a case being heard in the Supreme Court of Queens County. The defendants in this case have moved for an order to vacate their default and to grant them leave to serve an answer in regard to the matter.

Case Background

A New York Probate Lawyer said the plaintiffs in this case made a down payment on a real property located at 159-8 132nd Avenue, in Springfield Gardens, New York in the amount of $15,000. They paid the amount to the seller’s attorney and it was held in escrow. The plaintiffs allege that they obtained a mortgage commitment, a title report, and had the property both surveyed and inspected and then requested that a closing be scheduled. The plaintiffs were then informed that the seller had passed away and therefore the closing could not take place.

The decedent was living in South Carolina at the time he passed away and his will was admitted for probate there. His daughter was named as the executor. The plaintiffs sought to have the decedent’s estate convey the subject property to them. The plaintiffs state that they were informed that the decedent’s daughter would proceed with the closing.

A new contract of sale was drafted and the defendant agreed to sell the property to the plaintiffs for the amount of $475,000. Westchester County Probate Lawyers said the down payment remains in escrow as it was transferred to the new counsel of the defendant. The closing did not take place as scheduled and this proceeding was started for specific performance and compensatory damages against the estate and the administrator of the estate.

The defendants were served with the process in South Carolina on the 31st of December, 2007. None of the defendants provided an answer or otherwise moved or appeared in this action. The court granted the plaintiffs a motion for default judgment against the defendants.

The plaintiffs were ordered to file a note of inquest as to the damages. There were several inquest hearings adjourned and the defendants did not respond. The inquest was finally completed on the 29th of September, 2009. Suffolk County Probate Lawyers said the defendants were directed to execute any of the necessary documents to transfer the title of the property to the plaintiffs.

Court Decision

The defendants have offered evidence in the matter showing that their default in the prior issues were a matter of law office failure and therefore is excusable. As a resident of South Carolina, the defendant has not engaged New York counsel as representation for this action and to obtain letters of administration in the state of New York.

The court finds no evidence to show that the defendant intentionally abandoned the defense in this action. For this reason the court will grant the motion to vacate the order in order to serve an answer in regard to the issues of the case.

Stephen Bilkis & Associates offers free legal consultations to those in need of legal advice, whether you need a will, trust, or are involved in an estate litigation proceeding. Contact one of our New York City offices to set up an appointment to meet with one of our experienced New York lawyers to discuss your case. We will help you to determine the best course of action in regard to your personal situation

Contact Information