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

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

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.
Continue Reading Triggering In Terrorem Clauses With Out-Of-State Will And Trust Contests

Recent developments in the Martin Tankleff murder case have captivated court observers in New York and attracted the attention of national news media outlets. For the most part, the observers have focused their attention on issues of criminal law, like newly-discovered evidence and the reliability of allegedly false confessions. Yet, the case also has potential trusts and estates-related consequences.

This much we know: Mr. Tankleff’s parents were killed on September 7, 1988 (see People v Tankleff, 49 A.D.3d 160, 162-64 [2d Dep’t 2007]). After an investigation, the police arrested Mr. Tankleff for murdering his parents, prosecutors tried him for the murders, and a Suffolk County jury convicted him of the offenses (id.). In the days, months, and years that followed, Mr. Tankleff and his legal team launched an exhaustive campaign to overturn his convictions on the basis of newly-discovered evidence, which Mr. Tankleff asserted established his innocence (id.). The Appellate Division, Second Department, issued an Order vacating Mr. Tankleff’s judgments of conviction in December 2007, id. at 183, and prosecutors elected against retrying Mr. Tankleff in June 2008 (see Luis Perez, “AG won’t retry Tankleff – or any other suspects,” Newsday, June 30, 2008).

Continue Reading Is Justice Delayed Justice Denied?