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…

It might well be an understatement to characterize New York’s Dead Man’s Statute (CPLR 4519) as somewhat “enigmatic,” at least to those practitioners who do not often encounter it. Indeed, the leading treatise on the statute is over three-quarters of a century old (see Greenfield on Testimony under Sec. 347 (CPA) § 61 [1923]).

This article contains a brief overview of the statute and more thorough discussion of its application to motions for summary judgment.

Generally — and perhaps overly simplistically — the Dead Man’s Statute renders an interested person incompetent to testify concerning a personal transaction (including a communication) with a deceased or mentally ill person. Such evidence is freely discoverable, however, and may be the subject of testimony at a deposition. Indeed, the rule applies only “upon the trial of an action or the hearing upon the merits of a special proceeding” (CPLR 4519).   

 

 


Continue Reading Inter Vivos Gifts, Summary Judgment, and the Dead Man’s Statute