Courts greatly appreciate when parties settle their disputes by agreement. Settlements alleviate the courts of the burden of overwhelming caseloads, and further the public policy of encouraging parties to order their affairs by contract rather than relying on statute and common law. As the Surrogate’s Court recently reiterated in Matter of Eckert, “stipulations of
From April 7, 2020 to June 25, 2021, New York Executive Order 202.14 authorized “the remote execution of wills” in New York State. Recently, in Matter of Holmgren, Queens County Surrogate Peter J. Kelly wrote a decision addressing the information that a self-proving affidavit must contain in order to prove the validity of a remotely executed will. Robert Harper writes about the decision in our latest post.
Continue Reading SURROGATE’S COURT PROVIDES GUIDANCE ON PROVING THE VALIDITY OF A REMOTELY WITNESSED WILL
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced litigants to wrestle with the dilemma of waiting for a jury trial or moving forward more expeditiously by way of a bench trial. Recently, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department, and the Court of Appeals passed on the issue of undue influence arising out of a Surrogate’s Court bench trial. Frank Santoro discusses the decisions in our latest post.
Continue Reading The Court of Appeals Takes a Look at an Undue Influence Claim from a Non-Jury Trial
In April 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 202.14, authorizing the remote witnessing of wills in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this week, Broome County Surrogate’s Court issued what appears to be the first reported New York decision addressing the admission to probate of a remotely witnessed will. Rob Harper discusses the decision in our latest post.
Continue Reading Admission of Remotely Witnessed Will to Probate
SCPA § 1404 requires that “at least two attesting witnesses must be produced before the court and examined before a written will is admitted to probate.” Very often, litigators think of examinations pursuant to SCPA § 1404 as examinations before trial that are conducted under Article 31 of the CPLR. But they are not. Hillary Frommer discusses this topic in our latest post.
Continue Reading A Reminder that Pre-Objection SCPA § 1404 Exams are Not Simply Article 31 “Depositions”
In a recent decision in the Estate of Grunwald (NYLJ Jan. 28 2019, at 33 [Sur Ct, Richmond County]), Surrogate Titone aptly noted that “the concept of domicile is … very important in the Surrogate’s Court.” True words indeed. Where a decedent is domiciled at the time of his or her death determines which…
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…
This is a common question from clients involved in litigation – – especially estate litigation. As a general rule, a party cannot recover attorney’s fees for successfully prosecuting or defending a lawsuit. This is the “American Rule,” and it is engrained in our legal system. New York courts are wary of deviating from the American…
To object to the probate of a will, party must have a pecuniary interest that would be adversely affected by the admission of the instrument to probate. In Estate of Saunders, the Kings County Surrogate’s Court recently issued two decisions addressing the standing arguments of litigants in this context. Hillary Frommer discusses these cases in our latest entry.
Continue Reading Sometimes It’s Just a Question of Standing
Very often, when the proponent of a will (and sometimes even the attorney-draftsperson or witness) is questioned about the decedent’s mental state and the decedent’s instructions, the reflexive response is that the decedent was “as sharp as a tack” and was “as clear as a bell.” But overselling a decedent’s capacity and clarity of communication using tired metaphors may result in the trier of fact becoming suspicious of the proponent, perhaps perceiving the proponent as dishonest where other evidence reveals that the decedent likely had diminished capacity. Frank Santoro discusses the issue of testamentary capacity in our latest entry.
Continue Reading Sharp as a Tack . . . Clear as a Bell