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
Two recent decisions from the New York County Surrogate’s Court attempt to answer this question. In Estate of Weisberg, decided on April 8, 2014, the court addressed the issue of marriage. Faced with competing petitions for letters of administration, the court was asked to find as a matter of law, that the cross-petitioner was the decedent’s wife and sole distributee of the decedent’s estate. In Levien v Johnson, decided on April 14, 2014, the court considered whether two adults adopted by the decedent’s grandchildren constituted “great-grandchildren” under the decedent’s will. In both cases, the court was asked to find that these familial relationships existed as a matter of law. Hillary Frommer discusses the decisions in our latest entry.