Photo of Brian Corrigan

A person who executes a valid agreement to make a testamentary disposition as to a specific item of property is precluded from making an alternative disposition, either during lifetime or upon death. In this blog post, Brian Corrigan discusses Schwartz v Bourque, 2017 NY Slip Op 31621(U) (Sur Ct, Nassau County June 14, 2017), a recent decision involving an agreement to make a testamentary disposition as to a specific parcel of real property, a later agreement between the same parties concerning that property (that was alleged to have superseded the earlier agreement), and a deed transferring that same property which was contrary to the terms of the earlier agreement, but not the later one. In vacating the deed, Surrogate Reilly engaged in a comprehensive analysis of the applicable rules of contract construction, agreements to make testamentary dispositions, the termination of joint tenancies, and the statutory and case law governing fraudulent conveyances.
Continue Reading

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.
Continue Reading

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

In construing an in terrorem provision, or any part of a will, the paramount consideration is identifying and carrying out the testator’s intent. Although paramount, the testator’s intention will not be given effect if doing so would violate public policy. For example, an in terrorem provision that purports to prevent a beneficiary from questioning a fiduciary’s conduct is void as contrary to public policy. The recent decision of Matter of Sochurek illustrates the difficulty in reconciling the testator’s intention in respect of an in terrorem condition with the rights of beneficiaries to obtain an accounting or otherwise challenge the actions of their fiduciary. Brian Corrigan discusses the case in our latest entry.
Continue Reading