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

Last week, the Court of Appeals rendered a significant decision regarding the extent of discovery that may be conducted without triggering an in terrorem clause. In Matter of Singer, objections to probate were never filed. However, the issue presented was whether a beneficiary’s decision to depose the decedent’s prior attorney, a form of discovery not protected by the safe harbor provisions of EPTL 3-3.5 or SCPA 1404, triggered the two in terrorem clauses set forth in the propounded will. Jaclene D’Agostino discusses the case in this week’s blog entry.
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Although void in some states, it is well settled that in terrorem or no contest clauses are enforceable under New York law. In a recent case, Surrogate Glen addressed the question of whether an in terrorem clause had been triggered by the petitioner contesting a New York instrument before a Florida court. This week’s entry, written by Robert Harper, discusses the decision.
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