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Readers may recall Eric Penzer’s previous entries regarding Leona Helmsley’s charitable trust in which she expressed a desire that its millions of dollars be used for the care and welfare of dogs. This week he addresses the New York County Surrogate’s Court’s latest decision on the issue, after animal welfare charities sought to intervene in the proceeding and vacate a prior determination that the trust assets could be distributed to any charities as the executors saw fit.
Continue Reading Surrogate: Dog Groups Barking Up The Wrong Tree

At the time of her death in 1974, it was believed that Ellen Naomi Cohen a/k/a “Mama Cass” of the 1960’s rock-folk group The Mama’s & The Papa’s died intestate. But recent revelations indicate that she may in fact have had a will. Eric Penzer discusses these recent findings in our latest entry.
Continue Reading Mama Cass’s Estate – California Dreamin’ or a Nightmare?

Last week, the Second Department overturned a determination of the Kings County Surrogate’s Court that had disqualified an executrix based upon her selection of counsel. But while holding that letters should be reinstated, the Appellate Division also directed the fiduciary to obtain new representation. Eric Penzer discusses the decision in this week’s entry.
Continue Reading Estate Fiduciary Wrongly Deprived of Counsel of Choice?

This week’s entry discusses a recent decision from the Southern District of New York in which the plaintiff asserted he was the son of John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, and sought to compel distributions from the late president’s testamentary trust. Especially relevant to the trusts and estates litigator is the discussion of the probate exception to federal diversity jurisdiction.
Continue Reading Ask not what your Trustees can do for you…