Published on:

Petitioner Claims Will was Not Properly Executed


This is a case being heard in the Surrogate’s Court of the State of New York located in Nassau County. The case deals with the last will and testament of Zelda Astor. The will is being contested by objectant Regina Astor Zyats who moves for an order of summary judgment and denying the admission of the purported will that is dated the 17th of June, 2005 to probate on the ground that there is lack of due execution of the will. Ms. Zyats also seeks to have the letters testamentary that were issued to Paula Sue Astor – Ferraro revoked. The petitioner, Ms. Ferraro, opposes the motion.

Case Background

The decedent, Zelda Astor, passed away in July of 2005. She left a will that is dated the 17th of June, 2005. The decedent is survived by four children, Jeffrey Howard Astor, Stephen Brent Astor, Regina Astor Zyats, and Paula Sue Astor – Ferraro. In the purported will the decedent makes bequests of case in the amount of $5000 to Regina, $10,000 to Jeffrey, $25,000 to Stephen, $25,000 to her grandson Baron Zyats, $5000 to her granddaughter Rachel Zyats, and $5000 to her former daughter in law, Pamela Astor. A New York Probate Lawyer said the will nominates Paula as the executor of the will. Additionally, in the eighth article of the will the decedent bequeaths her entire residuary estate to Paula.

Regina filed verified objections to the will on the 11th of May, 2006. There are three objections made by Regina. The first was objects to the purported will on the basis of undue influence. The second objects to the will based on lack of due execution, and the final objection are based on the unfitness of the fiduciary to serve by reason of dishonesty.

Preliminary letters testamentary were issued to Paula after objections made by Regina. The court found that Regina failed to demonstrate good cause or any serious wrongdoing that would permit the court to nullify the decedent’s choice of fiduciary for the estate.

Case Discussion

Regina has moved to have the purported will dismissed. As the party moving for a summary judgment in the matter Regina has the burden to show that she has entitlement to this decision as a matter of the law.

In this case the witnesses at the signing of the will all provided various stories as to how the will was executed. None of theme seemed to remember if the decedent signed the papers before or after they did. Long Island Probate Lawyers said the court remains unclear of the validity of the will in question. Probate should not be allowed in this case until it can be determined whether or not the will is in fact valid.

Summary judgment cannot be granted in this particular case as there remain many questions about the validity of the will. Queens Probate Lawyers said the fact that Paula’s husband was the one that drafted the will and there is no witness to testify as to whether or not the decedent even read the will before she signed it warrant reason enough for a trial. The matter will proceed for trial at a further date.

Stephen Bilkis & Associates offers free consultations for those visiting our offices for the first time. We have several offices in New York City for your convenience. Contact us at any time to come in and speak with an experienced New York probate lawyer.

Contact Information