A GUIDING HAND: Assisting An Ailing Testator With Signing Their Will

The heirs of Melvin Simon, the billionaire shopping mall magnate, are embroiled in a bitter estate struggle contesting a will signed by Mr. Simon seven months before his death. Simon's eldest daughter claims there was undue influence because Simon's hand was guided by a financial planner as...

Loss of Standing in Will Challenges: Petitioner Loses Her Standing --And Her Case

New York's Appellate Division recently affirmed a decision of Nassau County Surrogate John Riordan which disinherited the daughter of a decedent who had brought a petition to contest her father's will and for a construction of the residuary clause which left $221,000 to various charities. In...

Wills--Dispensing with Formalities

Jane was told by her physicians that she has a terminal disease, and that she has less than a year to live. She is a mentally competent thirty year old who has never been married and has no children. After a few weeks of contemplation, Jane sits down with her laptop and types a five page document that...

What Happens to Your Will when Another Beneficiary is Born?

You Will usually says "I leave my estate to my children" or maybe "to my grandchildren" or "to my children, and if a child isn't living, then to their children". You will notice that no names are being used. Guest blogger Stacey C. Maiden, Esq ., Of Counsel to our Tax...

Conclusory Statements Are Not Sufficient To Raise An Issue Of Fact As To A Will's Validity

An Objectant seeking to block a will's admission to probate learned the hard way that there is nothing easy about doing this. The Appellate Division, Third Department held in In Re Doody 912 N.Y.S.2d 792(A.D. 3 Dept. 2010) that upon the petitioner making out a prima facie case for valid execution...

Undue Influence and Wills

The Supreme Court of Georgia recently decided a case in which it found that a will was product of undue influence and fraud, and that the testator lacked testamentary capacity. In McDaniel v. McDaniel (S10A1497, March 7, 2011), the testator, Mr. McDaniel, was married to his wife, Mrs. McDaniel, for...

She's Baaaack! Anna Nicole Smith's Case Finally Reaches The Supreme Court

It is four years since the death of Anna Nicole Smith from an accidental prescription drug overdose. The smoke has cleared from the great "Who's Your Daddy ?" controversy which exploded across the nation's headlines soon after. And now, the ABA Journal reports that her heirs are about...

Will Contest Time Frames and Deadlines

Over the past few years, more and more of our practice has become devoted to estate litigation. These questions generally revolve around the validity of a decedent's Last Will and Testament, or gifts/transfers the decedent made prior to their death. Typical situations might include a caregiver child...

No Contest Will Clauses

I'm sure we have all seen the TV dramas where a Will reading is portrayed in which ridiculously rich grandma shocks the family by leaving a child a token bequest ("my antique car" or "$50,000") and has a provision in the Will that if the child challenges the Will then they get...

A Humorous Twist On An Interrorem Clause (With A Not So Humorous Downside)

The interrorem clause --also known as the "no contest " clause --is not favored in many states. It is not enforceable everywhere. But in New York, it is an often- utilized poison pill used to discourage disgruntled relatives from challenging grandpa's Will. Since there is humor everywhere...

New York Court Disqualifies Firm from Representing Will Proponent in Contested Probate Proceeding

Mary D. McElroy (decedent) died testate, survived by one child, Olivia McElroy (Olivia), who was under a disability. Following decedent's death, the proponent, an attorney, filed a probate petition. The proponent had represented members of the McElroy family for over 20 years during which time he...

Testamentary Capacity and Undue Influence in Will Contests

By Stephen Taylor The two most common legal theories used in will contests are lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence. While the basic principles of these two theories have long been established in Virginia, a recent decision handed down by the Supreme Court of Virginia illustrates...

Deirdre Wheatley-Liss: 4 Good (?) Reasons to Contest a Will

Maybe it's the season, but I have gotten a lot of calls recently about will contests. A will contest usually happens when your heirs are surprised by what your will says, or by what you have left when you go to the great beyond. I have represented both heirs and estates, and in all cases there are...