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Case Victory for Clients Claiming Improper Execution of Father's Will

On March 4, 2014, one of our New York estate litigation lawyers at Novick & Associates, P.C. was successful in helping two clients reach a victorious result in a probate case in which they were claiming that their father's will was improperly executed. The clients were two sisters who were contesting the will with the support of their other siblings (the other adult children of the decedent). In the Suffolk County Surrogate's Court case, the court granted summary judgment on the issue of due execution of the father's will. In light of this ruling, the document that the decedent's surviving spouse purported to be the last will and testament (dated Nov. 9, 2012) is being deemed by the court as invalid. The case was handled by Albert V. Messina, Jr., one of the attorneys from Novick & Associates, P.C.

The decedent passed away on Dec. 28, 2012, according to the court documents. When he died, he left behind his spouse, an infant daughter and five adult children from other previous marriages. The testamentary instrument that the spouse presented as the decedent's will for probate included the provision of a trust for the infant daughter and instructions to leave the rest of the estate to the spouse. The will offered for probate was a six-page stapled document. The will contained nominal contingent bequests for the decedent's adult children and an in terrorem, or 'no-contest' clause where an unsuccessful challenge to the will would have resulted in the disinheritance of the unsuccessful objectant. Four of the five adult children filed objections with the court.

Two of the adult children (our clients), filed a motion for summary judgment based on evidence that there is no actual dispute to certain material facts. The objectants asked that the will be invalidated due to the following points:

  • The will's execution was not supervised by an attorney, and
  • The two witnesses who were present at the will signing testified that they only recall seeing two pages when the will was signed, whereas the will submitted for probate was six pages.

In the end, the court granted summary judgment, siding with Novick & Associates, P.C.'s clients. The court made this decision due to the fact that the spouse and the infant daughter's guardian ad litem were not able to meet their burden of proof that the document signed by the decedent was the same one that was submitted for probate.

At Novick & Associates, P.C., we who can effectively represent you in disputes related to a deceased loved one's will. These disputes oftentimes need to be resolved through estate litigation. Contact us to request an initial consultation.