Probate Wills

News & Analysis as of

Jury Trials in Surrogate’s Court Removal Proceedings

As parties prepare for trial before the Surrogate’s Court, a question that oftentimes arises is whether the parties have a right to a trial by jury. The right to a jury trial is anything but universal in Surrogate’s Court...more

Court Holds That A One-Line Will Should Have Been Admitted To Probate

In In the Estate of Setser, the decedent signed a 1993 will naming his daughter as the sole beneficiary. No. 01-15-00855-CV, 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 937 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] February 2, 2017, no pet. history). Later,...more

Executor’s Duties Before Receiving Letters

A nominated executor is obliged to secure estate assets even before the issuance of letters testamentary, or preliminary letters testamentary (see Matter of Schultz, 104 AD3d 1146 [4th Dept. 2013]). Courts have recognized...more

10 Arguments Against Pre-Death (Antemortem) Probate and Will Contests

There are a handful of states that allow a person to probate a will (and challengers to contest the validity of a will) before the testator (the person enacting the will) dies. In recent years, there has been a trend to...more

Court Affirms Denial Of Statutory Bill Of Review From A Trust Contest

In In re Estate of Kam, Kam sought to set aside an order probating her brother’s will via a statutory bill of review because he purportedly lacked the requisite testamentary capacity to execute the will or the will was the...more

A Flood . . . in the Basement

Having examined countless witnesses in probate and other contested Surrogate’s Court proceedings, many of us have grown accustomed to learning that critical documents were destroyed by a “flood.” That flood, almost...more

T&E Litigation Newsletter - November 2016

There has not been much case law of particular relevance in the T&E area since our last newsletter, but three recent federal court decisions—one from the First Circuit Court of Appeals, and two from the United States District...more

Appellate Court Notes

Supreme Court Advance Release Opinions: SC19516 - Doe v. Boy Scouts of America Corp. SC19516 Concurrence - Doe v. Boy Scouts of America Corp. SC19516 Concurrence - Doe v. Boy Scouts of America...more

Court Affirms Dismissal Of Will Contest Based On Public Policy Arguments Arising From Sexual Abuse Allegations

In Merrick v. Helter, a daughter who accused her father of sexual abuse attempted to void her father’s will based on public policy grounds. No. 03-14-00708-CV, 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 8966 (Tex. App.—Austin August 18, 2016, no...more

Court Grants Mandamus Relief To Void Order Naming An Executor More Than Three Years After Admitting Will To Probate As A Muniment...

In In re Squyres, in 2012, Baker filed with the probate court an application to probate a will as a muniment of title. No. 01-16-00236-CV, 2016 Tex. App. LEXIS 8509 (Tex. App.—Houston [1st Dist.] August 9, 2016, no pet....more

Court Voided Judgment Based On Family Settlement Agreement Where Party Revoked Consent

In In re Estate of Spiller, a party appealed an order admitting a will to probate and ordering the independent administrator to distribute the estate in accordance with a family settlement agreement. No. 04-15-00449-CV, 2016...more

How Non-Probate Assets Can Affect Your Estate Plan: A Few Cautionary Tales

When you think about the control of your possessions and assets after your death, you probably think of a Will and probate. A Will is a written, legally enforceable declaration that states how you wish your assets to be...more

Tax Law Blog: More Issues for Prince's Lack of Estate Planning

I’m not typically one to follow pop culture, but in the case of Prince’s lack of an estate plan, I’m following closely how this can serve as an example of how not to do your estate plan. An earlier post discussed the...more

Trial & Heirs: 5 Estate Planning Stumbling Blocks

Last month, Prince died at the ripe young age of 57. He had no will, as reported by his only full sibling (a sister). She filed for probate of his estate in Minnesota, where he owned a home in Paisley Park. Under Minnesota...more

Are You Still Partying Like It’s 1999?

Most of us prefer to do those things that are fun and tend to procrastinate as to things that are the more mundane and that are not so interesting or exciting. Does that describe you?...more

Lack of a Will Could Mean Chaos for Prince's Estate

The famed recording artist Prince died leaving an unknown fortune and possibly no will or estate plan to dictate what to do with that fortune. Prince's sister, Tyka Nelson, told the probate court in the Minnesota county where...more

3 Strange Things About Prince’s Estate

There are several unusual factors at play in the drama that is unfolding surrounding Prince’s estate. This blog post discusses them and offers some tips so that you can hopefully avoid a similar situation....more

Tax Law Blog: Prince's Estate Plan (or lack thereof)

News sources are reporting that court documents filed last week indicate Prince died intestate, meaning he did not have a will. His sister filed the paperwork, stating to her knowledge he did not have a will and requesting...more

Prince: Is His Legacy Really Untold?

As we’ve all seen in the news, musician Prince passed away on April 21, 2016 at the age of 57. According to news sources, on April 26, just five days later, one of Prince’s six siblings, his sister Tyka Nelson, filed...more

Party Over, Oops Out of Time…The Perils of Dying Intestate

I was very saddened to hear of the passing of recording artist Prince on April 21, 2016. As I watched my social media accounts surge with tributes and song lyrics, I allowed myself to reminisce and feel nostalgic about the...more

"New Connecticut Laws Limit Transfer Taxes for Some Decedents, Increase Probate Fees for Most Estates"

Connecticut has implemented changes to its transfer tax and probate laws that affect nearly every decedent leaving even a modest estate via will or nonprobate transfer (such as a revocable trust). A new $20 million cap for...more

Court Reverses Finding Of Undue Influence In A Will Contest And Discusses Requirements To Execute A Will

In In re Estate of Kam, an elderly man executed a new will to omit any gift to one son after the man discovered that his life insurance had been altered to name his son as the sole beneficiary. No. 08-14-00016-CV, 2016 Tex....more

Preparation is the most important component of an estate plan.

Many people mistakenly believe that estate planning is only necessary for the rich. In actuality, a basic estate plan is essential for everyone, regardless of income or net worth, because we all want to minimize...more

Florida Court Provides a Lesson in Nuncupative and Notarial Wills

Many lawyers have not heard the terms “nuncupative wills” and “notarial wills” since they took their bar exams (and some perhaps not even then). A recent Florida case provides us with a real world application of these terms....more

T&E Litigation Newsletter- September 2015

In a decision in a case entitled In the Matter of the Estate of Charles P. Galatis, Case No. 14-P-579 (September 9, 2015), the Appeals Court addressed what happens when there is a will contest involving two possible wills,...more

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