New York’s “slayer rule” generally prohibits an individual from benefiting from his own wrongdoing. However, due to the unusual facts of a case that is developing in Suffolk County, a murderer may indirectly inherit his victim’s estate through intestacy. Robert Harper discusses the situation in this week’s entry.
Continue Reading The Slayer Rule

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?

Surrogate Holzman of Bronx County recently addressed the issue of whether New York’s witness beneficiary rule would serve to invalidate bequests to a witness and only beneficiary of a will that had been executed outside of this jurisdiciton. Jaclene D’Agostino discusses the decision in our most recent entry.
Continue Reading Witness Beneficiary Rule Applicable to Instrument Executed Outside of New York?

In Matter of Smith, the nominated executor of an estate sought to dispense with the testimony of one of the attesting witnesses at the SCPA 1404 stage of a probate proceeding. The court denied the motion, explaining that the statutory requirements had not been satisfied. Jaclene D’Agostino discusses the decision in our latest blog entry.
Continue Reading Motion to Dispense with Testimony of Uncooperative Attesting Witness Denied

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?

In Matter of Feller, a contested probate proceeding that was decided last week in Monroe County, the Surrogate addressed typical objections pertaining to due execution, testamentary capacity, and undue influence. The decision provides a cohesive illustration of the standards and considerations that Surrogates routinely utilize in addressing these allegations. Jaclene D’Agostino discusses the case in this week’s entry.
Continue Reading Summary Judgment Granted, Dismissing Objections and Admitting Will to Probate

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.
Continue Reading Court of Appeals: Extra Deposition Did Not Violate In Terrorem Clause