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Today’s New York Daily News reports the tale of a brawl with potentially  wide-reaching implications for the Administrator of a New York County Estate. The administrator of the 3.1 million dollar estate was arrested for a brawl outside of a New Jersey strip club in which he has  been accused of assaulting a police officer. Tow truck operatorJohn Mattarazo was also accused by a cousin of illegally taking thousands of dollars from the estate of …
In the Matter of Reuben Hoppenstein, No. 2015-2918/A (N.Y. Sur. Mar. 31, 2017) the New York County Surrogate ruled as appropriate the distribution of a life insurance policy to a new trust which eliminated certain beneficiaries of the distributing trust. This distribution was made by a trustee vested with absolute discretionary power  by the terms of the trust. The beneficiaries who were excluded brought suit against the trustee . The Surrogate deferred to the trust…
The New York Law Journal has reported that newly appointed Kings County Surrogate John Ingram has barred the testimony of a widow in an action about whether or not she may exercise her spousal right of election in the matter of her late husband’s estate. Irving Berk, who died in 2006, left a five million dollar estate to his children and his grandchildren. Mr. Berk’s caregiver, Hua Wang, has attempted to exercise the spousal right…
A recent article in New York’s Daily News reports on the Queens County political machine and  its incredible control over proceedings in that county’s Surrogate’s  Court. It is a primer  on  the perils  of what can happen where there is no Will and no decent estate plan. Your lawblogger has often commented on the way in which a Public Administrator can affect the outcome of an estate. While the Public Administrator generally has the job…
Over the past holiday I treated my 15 year old grandson to a movie. Rogue One was not my choice but he enjoyed it immensely. At the close of the movie, a computer generated image of Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia  appeared on the screen. One day later, Carrie Fisher passed away after suffering a heart attack on a flight about to land at Los Angeles. Reuters Entertainment News reports that there is now a…
Michael Petro’s article in the Buffalo Law Journal  is an interesting  piece about  a relatively new provision of the law which permits us to end an “irrevocable” trust. It’s easy to decant a fine wine but not always so with an irrevocable trust. Before the law was changed in 2011, ” irrevocable” meant just that. We were required to adhere to the wishes and directions of the trust’s creator even though changing times might…
Walter Scott’s epic words quoted above are a good guide for all of us; especially for attorneys. In what would appear to be a perfectly ridiculous way to lose a law license, New York City attorney James A. Robbins has been disbarred after losing a will entrusted to his safekeeping and then making up a series of completely phony excuses as to why the estate was being delayed without ever disclosing that the will was…
There is nothing like the death of a wealthy celebrity who dies without a will to bring scads of would-be relatives out of the woodwork, each claiming to be a long-lost brother, sister, cousin, etc. Loren Barr’s Trust and Estate Blog presents a great picture of the chaos which has unfortunately ensued after the death of music legend Prince this past April. Prince’s estate is valued at between one hundred million and three hundred million…
Just about anyone who can navigate the web can find a template for a do it yourself will. After all, why go to a lawyer to draft your will when you can figure out how to do it yourself for free? Your lawblogger has long contended with the misconception that just because somebody is literate in English and can read and write, that they can successfully draft a legal document — even one as critical…
The decision of the Appellate Division’s Second Department to reverse Suffolk County Surrogate John  Czyger in the Matter of Kohn reported at http://2016 NY Slip Op 07194 involves a dispute over the meaning of a pre-nuptial agreement.  No tears here for the respondent wife who sought to sought a judgment entitling her to recover $3,500,000 less the amount of four mortgages and one half the value of joint accounts identified in the agreement. The executor…