The New York Probate Litigation Blog

Category Archives: LEGAL INFORMATION

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Not Everybody Needs A Trust

Posted in LEGAL INFORMATION
Every Spring, when the snowbirds have returned to New York, your lawblogger gets a rash of inquiries about trusts. Some folks are absolutely insistent but don’t really have a good explanation for this. I usually ask at this point which Florida clubhouse ran the program where they suddenly realized they must have a trust. An … Continue Reading

Do Not Try This At Home –The Do It Yourself Will

Posted in LEGAL INFORMATION
The Do It Yourself  legal industry is flourishing with claims that you do not need a lawyer to get your affairs in order with a low-cost DIY will. Just input your credit card information, download the easy to use form, fill in the blank spaces and seal it in an envelope in anticipation of Judgment … Continue Reading

Sometimes A Trust Works Best

Posted in LEGAL INFORMATION
One of the major features of the Surrogate’s Court is that it is a court of public record. Unfortunately, that can be one of its major drawbacks. Every document filed in every estate is available to anyone. If your grandfather (great grandfather) passed away here in the twenties, his Will together with lots of information … Continue Reading

Keep The Peace In The Family Or Your Heirs Will Reap The Whirlwind

Posted in LEGAL INFORMATION
In her last public interview in 1994, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis stated that her most important accomplishment in life was to insure that her children loved each other. Your lawblogger has taken her words to heart over the years. As a litigator practicing in the field of contested matrimonials and contested estates, I can definitively state … Continue Reading

Be Careful With Mom’s Power Of Attorney

Posted in LEGAL INFORMATION
A power of attorney is a powerful document posing some danger to the holder. It is common to receive a power of attorney from an aging parent or relative in order to help them handle their personal affairs. In effect, it allows the holder to stand in the shoes of the giver and act as … Continue Reading

When You Get A Waiver In The Mail

Posted in LEGAL INFORMATION
In order to commence estate proceedings, it is first necessary that all persons essential to the estate receive notice. This would include any person named in the will or anyone who would have standing to object to the will. If there is no will, it would include all distributees — next of kin who would … Continue Reading

A Primer On The Residuary Clause

Posted in LEGAL INFORMATION
Every will drafted by an attorney is almost certain to have a residuary clause. This is an essential catch-all provision inserted to make sure that assets go where they are supposed to go. Here is an article by Dennis Fordham in the Lake County (California) News which provides useful information on  this important provision of … Continue Reading

Times Features Comprehensive Article on Trusts

Posted in LEGAL INFORMATION
The New York Times has published a rather comprehensive, if brief, overview of trusts. For those of you who find all of the acronyms we use to describe various trusts, this may prove to be very helpful. your  lawblogger would add a little postscript to this article with regard to the issue of whether of … Continue Reading

Appellate Court Vacates Default In Surrogate Matter

Posted in LEGAL INFORMATION
Today, the Second Department of the Appellate Division vacated a default in theMatter of  Skolnick, (2013 NY  Slip Op 05364) reversing the decision of the Surrogate’s Court of Rockland County. In this action, the objectant Stacy Ross had unsuccessfully attempted to vacate a default in the lower court after the Petitioner had failed to serve her … Continue Reading

Court Rules Against Operation Of In Terrorem Clause

Posted in LEGAL INFORMATION
Nassau County Surrogate Edward W. McCarty III has ruled in the Matter of The Estate of Walsh   (2013 NY Slip Op 51060(U)) that an in terrorem clause in the decedent’s Will was not violated when a beneficiary of the estate  opposed the executor’s turnover petition seeking to recover the proceeds of a joint account which was in … Continue Reading

Choosing Your Trustees–Don’t Take Yes For An Answer

Posted in LEGAL INFORMATION
If you have minor children, your legal affairs are not in order without a Will with a minor’s trust. Your lawblogger’s first boss used to say that the cost of the sports car your child purchases at eighteen is directly proportional to the amount of his or her inheritance. Some lawyers –including yours truly– will … Continue Reading

What’s Happening With Mom’s Estate???

Posted in LEGAL INFORMATION
Your lawblogger gets calls on a regular basis from folks wondering what is happening with a parent’s estate. Most are concerned that a relative whom they do not trust is doing something improper behind their back. The safeguards against this in New York are just about foolproof… Continue Reading

Growing Strategy To Stagger Receipt Of Legacies

Posted in LEGAL INFORMATION
One of my first bosses used to say the price of the sports car your child purchases is directly proportional to the size of his inheritance when he turns eighteen. This tried and true axiom has occurred to more and more parents and they are dealing with the situation in greater numbers. An article by … Continue Reading

Charitable Lead Trusts May Have Important Consequences

Posted in LEGAL INFORMATION
Conrad Teitell’s Philanthropy Tax E-Letter highlights some interesting and important points about charitable lead trusts. The trusts are used as a vehicle by high net worth individuals to provide benefits to charities of their choice while still passing the property to their heirs with little or no gift tax. Problems may arise if the donor’s involvement … Continue Reading

Afterborn Child Causes Confusion In Delaware Estate

Posted in LEGAL INFORMATION
The estate of boxing promoter Ronald "Butch" Lewis has raised a number of issues that a local law school professor has called "a great final exam question". As reported in Delaware Online, claims for child support must be filed against an estate within eight months of a person’s death. Lewis’ child, however, was not born until nine months … Continue Reading

How To Avoid An Estate Fight

Posted in LEGAL INFORMATION
When asked for advice as to how to avoid the destructive kind of litigation which characterizes a contested estate, many lawyers will probably opt for a well-constructed in terrorem  clause –a legal poison pill which threatens a potential contestant with the loss of his or her legacy… Continue Reading

Appellate Court Upholds Choice Of Executor

Posted in LEGAL INFORMATION
The Appellate Division of the Fourth Department has upheld the decision of  the Erie County Surrogate which dismissed objections to the nomination of an  executor in the Matter of the Estate of Carmen J. Russo reported at 954N.Y.S.2d 395 (A.D. 4 dept 2012). The decedent’s daughter filed objections to probate, claiming that the proposed executor … Continue Reading

Court Denies Summary Judgment Where Ancient Wills Clash 34 Years After One Was Admitted To Probate

Posted in LEGAL INFORMATION
New York County Surrogate Nora Anderson has denied summary judgment and ordered a trial to determine  whether or not letters testamentary issued in 1979 should be revoked and a will made one week later in 1978 admitted to probate in its place. The case, The Will Of  Elmer H. Bobst is reported in today’s New York Law … Continue Reading

Getting Surrogate’s Court Records

Posted in LEGAL INFORMATION
Your lawblogger frequently gets questions about how to obtain records of an estate. The Surrogate’s Court is a court of public record and every document filed is available to anyone. You can get copies of the entire estate of your Aunt Minnie who died in 1912 if that is what you would like. The difficulty … Continue Reading