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Plaintiff Brings Will Contest Action


This case deals with the plaintiffs Henry Rogers Benjamin Jr. individually and as the trustee of the trusts under article 13 of the will of Henry Rogers Benjamin, William E. Benjamin II, and William E. Benjamin III, Anne R. and Henry Rogers Barry, Douglas Benjamin, Gregory Benjamin, Theodore Benjamin, Christopher M. Benjamin, Alexandra Benjamin Vose, Beatrice Benjamin, Cynthia Barry Bidwell, and Anne E. Green. The defendants in this case are Morgan Guaranty Trust Company of New York and Morgan Guarantee Trust Company as the trustee of trusts under paragraphs a and b of article 13 of the will of Henry Rogers Benjamin and the Southampton Hospital Association and Memorial Hospital for Cancer and Allied Diseases.

Case Background

A New York Probate Lawyer said the decedent passed away on the 22nd of February, 1967. He left a will that was admitted for probate on the 13th of March, 1967. In the 13th article of his will the decedent devised and bequeathed half of his residuary estate in trust with the net income payable to his spouse during her lifetime. The trustees were given the discretionary power to invade the marital trust for the benefit of his spouse. He offered guidance to the trustees in the form of directing that his spouse receive a minimum of $1,000,000 per year utilizing the net income augmented by the principal. The spouse was given general power of appointment over the marital trust. If the spouse was to default on her power or exercise the power invalidly, the remaining principal of the marital trust would go to the decedent’s descendants, who are the plaintiffs in this case.

From 1967 through 1972, the trustees of the marital trust made distributions of the trusts principal to the spouse in excess of the minimum annual amount that was specified by the will. Around August of 1972, the corporate fiduciary of the marital trust contacted the lawyer of the spouse in order to express concern over the amounts that were being taken from the principal on behalf of the spouse. Specifically, the corporate fiduciary stated that if the rate continued to the same extent then releases would have to be obtained from the persons in whose favor she intended to exercise the power of appointment that had been granted to her under the will.

The spouse executed her will and used her power of appointment granted to her by the will. She continued to withdraw from the marital trust and consumed nearly 85% of the marital trust at the time of her demise.

Court Discussion

Long Island Probate Lawyers said the spouse passed away on December first, 1986. She left behind a will and the probate of her will is what is being contested by the plaintiffs. A summary judgment has granted a summary judgment stating that as a matter of the law the will of the spouse was executed appropriately and the will was not fraudulent or created under undue influence. The exercise of the power of appointment used by the spouse left the two hospitals as beneficiaries of the marital trust.

The complaints and relief sought by the plaintiffs is found to be without merit. Brooklyn Probate Lawyers said the court finds that there are no facts to support the fact that controversy exists in the validity of the exercise of the power of appointment as made by the spouse. For this reason, summary judgment is granted and the cause of action is dismissed.

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