One of the most fundamental duties of a fiduciary is the duty of loyalty. That is, every fiduciary must administer the estate or trust subject to his or her stewardship solely in the interests of the beneficiaries. If a fiduciary engages in self-dealing, that duty is breached. In Matter of Smith, the Surrogate’s Court, Albany County, recently addressed the liability attendant to fiduciary self-dealing . Ilene Cooper discusses the decision in our latest post.
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My colleagues have written on the enforceability of in terrorem clauses, and the courts continue to confront challenges in reconciling the testator’s intent to impose an in terrorem condition with the rights of beneficiaries to challenge the conduct of their fiduciary. The New York County Surrogate’s Court’s recent decision in Matter of Merenstein provides further

In late-August 2018, Governor Cuomo signed into law amendments to EPTL § 11-1.7 regarding exoneration clauses in lifetime trusts, drafted by Rob Harper and Ilene S. Cooper as members of the New York State Bar Association’s Trusts and Estates Law Section. Rob Harper discusses the amendments in our latest blog post.
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The fiduciary who thinks a receipt and release is the answer to all future claims for an accounting and liability may have a surprise in store. Over the past several months, Surrogates have explored the issue of receipts and releases, and have provided insight into just how far they will go to “save the day.” The New York County Surrogate’s Court’s recent decision in Matter of Ingraham is a case in point. Ilene Cooper discusses the decision in our latest post.
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In Matter of Sinzheimer, the New York County Surrogate’s Court held that a corporate co-trustee that had been “removed” pursuant to the terms of the trust agreement was not required to deliver the trust’s assets to the sole individual trustee where the individual defied the instruction in the trust instrument to appoint a successor corporate co-trustee. The perceived objectivity on the part of the removed corporate trustee figured prominently in the Court’s decision sustaining its decision to withhold delivery of trust assets to the individual trustee until a new corporate trustee had been appointed. Brian Corrigan discusses the decision in our latest post.
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E-mail is seemingly omnipresent. Yet, the improvements to the technology associated with e-mail have far outpaced the development of the law concerning our e-mail accounts and the rights that our survivors may have to access those accounts upon our deaths. In this post, Robert Harper addresses New York’s recently-enacted digital assets legislation, as well as Surrogate Mella’s decision in Matter of Serrano, which appears to be the first reported case to apply that legislation.
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