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Court Rules on Full Faith and Credit Act of the Constitution


This matter deals with Howard E. Bennett, who is also known as Ward Bennett and is deceased. The appellant in the case is David White. Robert Middleton, et al is the respondents in this matter. The case is being heard in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, Appellate Division, and Second Judicial Department.

A New York Family Lawyer said the the petitioner, David White is appealing an order that was made in the Surrogate’s Court of Suffolk County made on the 21st of December, 2009 that granted the motion of Andrew Sabin for leave to intervene in the proceeding and revoked his ancillary letters testamentary and an order from the same court that was made on the 24th of June, 2010 upon renewal and re-argument of the case adhered to the original determination made in the December 21st decision.

Case Background

The decedent, Howard E. Bennett who is also known as Ward Bennett was living in Florida at the time of his death. The will of the decedent provided that the petitioner, David White and Robert Middleton would receive a 20% share of the decedent’s multimillion dollar estate. The will was admitted for probate in Florida on the 22nd of September, 2003. The nephew of the decedent was appointed as the fiduciary of the estate.

The Florida proceeding was terminated after a settlement agreement was reached on the 30th of June, 2004. White, Middleton, and the other beneficiaries all executed waivers of a final accounting and acknowledgement of the sufficiency of payments received. The fiduciary was released from distributing any further payments.

While the Florida proceeding was still pending, White began this proceeding for the ancillary probate of the decedent’s will in the Surrogates Court of Suffolk County. He also started a discovery proceeding in the same court in April of 2005. Westchester County Probate Lawyers said the purpose of the discovery proceeding was to assert a cause of action alleging fraud to the respect of the transfer of the decedent’s home located in East Hampton, New York. This was based on allegations that Middleton sold the property as the attorney in fact for the decedent to an individual named Andrew Sabin in 2002 for much less than the fair market value of the home.

The discovery proceeding was held pending the determination of White’s petition to reopen the Florida proceeding to establish a basis for the Surrogate’s court’s right to exercise subject matter over the estate.

Court Discussion and Decision

The full faith and credit act of the United States Constitution requires the court give fair credit to the determinations made by the courts in Florida. For this reason, the court orders that the appeal from the order that was entered on the 21st of December is dismissed as it was already superseded by the order that was entered on the 24th of June, 2010. A Staten Island Probate Lawyer said that the court further orders that the order that was made on the 24th of June, 2010 is affirmed as appealed from. One bill of costs will be paid to the appellant personally.

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