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

It is easy to be cynical about the “pots and pans,” “tchotchkes,” and “junk” – – the property that is often divided in a contentious manner at the bitter end of an estate litigation, or sometimes forgotten after years of litigation. An ongoing dispute in one of my cases led me to reflect on a

In Gersh v. Nixon Peabody, LLP, the court addressed a legal malpractice claim brought by a decedent’s surviving spouse in connection with the couple’s estate planning. After settling a claim with the decedent’s children from a prior marriage that was made based on a separation agreement between the decedent and their mother, the surviving spouse alleged that the attorneys, who knew the decedent had been married twice before, failed to properly investigate his duties under separation agreements in the course of the representation. Frank Santoro discusses the case in our latest post.
Continue Reading Speculation, Estate Planning, and Legal Malpractice

Administering the estate of a decedent who dies intestate is sometimes more complicated than one of a decedent who dies leaving a will. The distributees of an intestate decedent are often unknown, leading to citation by publication and a kinship hearing with respect to anyone who appears alleging to be an heir. Frank Santoro discusses these situations in our most recent entry.
Continue Reading Who are the Distributees?

In Matter of Rivas, Surrogate Calvaruso of Monroe County addressed multiple legal issues pertinent to trustees, including but not limited to exoneration clauses, the Prudent Investor Act, delegation of investment responsibilities, and a fiduciary’s duty of loyalty. Frank Santoro discusses the case in our most recent entry.
Continue Reading Construction, Exoneration, Delegation, and Fiduciary Duty

A recent decision from the Westchester County Surrogate’s Court, Edelman v Hatami is an entertaining read. The decision addresses the Statute of Frauds, and provides a good example of how litigants will attempt to employ the equitable doctrines of promissory estoppel and constructive trust in estate litigation. 

In Edelman the defendant sought recovery against a decedent’s