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.
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Although adoption records generally remain sealed except for applications in connection with medical purposes, courts will occasionally allow such records to be unsealed for other reasons. This week’s entry discusses one of the rare cases in which an application was granted absent any medical objective.
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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).


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