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.
Continue Reading You’ve Got (E-)Mail! Can Your Survivors Access It After Your Death?

Although one of the many duties of an executor is to marshal and appraise estate assets, and, depending on the terms of the governing instrument, liquidate them for purposes of distribution, the fulfillment of these duties may, at times, result in fiduciary liability. That was the case Matter of Billmyer, a recent decision emanating from the Second Department. Ilene Cooper discusses the decision in our latest entry.
Continue Reading Fiduciary Imprudence: When the Sale of an Asset Results in a Surcharge

A nominated executor is obliged to secure estate assets even before the issuance of letters testamentary. But what if the nominated executor expends personal funds to preserve assets that she erroneously believed to belong to the estate? Is she entitled to reimbursement? The Oneida County Surrogate’s Court recently addressed this situation in Matter of Timpano. Brian Corrigan discusses the case in our latest entry.
Continue Reading Executor’s Duties Before Receiving Letters

A recent decision of the Kings County Surrogate’s Court demonstrates the importance of thoroughly analyzing all aspects of a statute of limitations defense prior to making a dismissal motion. In Matter of Coiro, the court denied such a motion, determining that a turnover proceeding was timely. Notably, the parties disputed both the applicable limitations period and the date of the claim’s accrual. Side-stepping both those issues, the court determined that a statutory toll rendered the claim timely . Eric Penzer discusses the decision in our latest entry.
Continue Reading Court Denies Motion to Dismiss Turnover Proceeding as Time Barred

A recent decision of the Richmond County Surrogate’s Court addressed a frequently litigated issue in Surrogate’s Court litigation – – whether the proposed or nominated fiduciary should be disqualified from serving in a fiduciary capacity on the grounds of “dishonesty” or “improvidence.” In the Estate of George Mathai a familiar dynamic was in play –

A donor writes in a pledge amount, signs the pledge card, hands it over to the charity, and is absolutely committed to that amount; end of story, right? Not necessarily. A recent case emanating from Kings County Surrogate’s Court, Matter of Issac Kramer, shows that certain charitable pledges may not be as binding as they appear on paper. Spencer Reames discusses the decision in our latest entry.
Continue Reading Charitable Pledges: Not Found Money, You Have to Earn Them