On March 19, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order No. 202.7, which temporarily authorizes the remote notarization of documents in New York until April 18, 2020. Rob Harper provides a summary as to its contents in our latest post.
Continue Reading TO INFINITY AND BEYOND (OR AT LEAST APRIL 18, 2020): NEW YORK STATE LAW TEMPORARILY AUTHORIZES THE REMOTE NOTARIZATION OF DOCUMENTS

E-mail is seemingly omnipresent. Yet, the improvements to the technology associated with e-mail have far outpaced the development of the law concerning our e-mail accounts and the rights that our survivors may have to access those accounts upon our deaths. In this post, Robert Harper addresses New York’s recently-enacted digital assets legislation, as well as Surrogate Mella’s decision in Matter of Serrano, which appears to be the first reported case to apply that legislation.
Continue Reading You’ve Got (E-)Mail! Can Your Survivors Access It After Your Death?

In terrorem clauses generally provide that, where a beneficiary under a testamentary instrument unsuccessfully challenges the instrument’s validity, the beneficiary will forfeit any interests obtained under the instrument. Testators include in terrorem clauses in their wills in order to dissuade estate beneficiaries from taking action that is contrary to the testators’ wishes, as expressed in their testamentary instruments. While a paramount objective of the Surrogate’s Court is to act according to testators’ wishes, in terrorem clauses must be narrowly construed, and certain in terrorem provisions are violative of public policy. In our latest post, Rob Harper provides examples of in terrorem clauses that contravene public policy and, thus, are unenforceable under New York law.
Continue Reading In Terrorem Provisions That Violate Public Policy

Although summary judgment in a contested probate proceeding historically has been rare, the recent trend has been for Surrogate’s Courts to grant such relief with increasing frequency. Consistent with that recent trend, Surrogate’s Courts have granted summary judgment dismissing probate objections alleging that a testator lacked testamentary capacity, notwithstanding the testator’s diagnosis of dementia before executing the propounded will. Our latest entry, written by Robert M. Harper, discusses several cases in which a testator’s diagnosis of dementia prior to executing the propounded will was insufficient to raise a triable issue of fact to withstand summary judgment dismissing a capacity objection.
Continue Reading Testamentary Capacity, Summary Judgment and a Testator’s Diagnosis of Dementia

As I wrote in a prior post, dated February 25, 2011, concerning the Estate of Dianne Edwards, the “slayer rule” articulated by the Court of Appeals in Riggs v. Palmer provides that “[n]o one shall be permitted to profit by his own fraud, or to take advantage of his own wrong, or to found

Estate litigation oftentimes arises when parents favor one or more of their children over others in their estate plans. Fortunately, at least for the parents, they typically do not have to deal with the issues involved in the litigation, as they are deceased by the time that it arises. As the Second Department’s decision in

In a prior post, Robert Harper explained the law on the disposition of human remains in New York. This week he follows up on that topic, discussing a recent Nassau County Supreme Court decision, Matter of Grace D. There, the court addressed a disagreement among the decedent’s family members as to the disposition of her remains.
Continue Reading More Tales from the Crypt: The Right of Sepulcher, Decedent’s Intent and Disposition of Human Remains