Estate Administration Archives

Probate- Who Can Object to a Will?

Objecting to a Will

Surrogate's Court Procedure Act ("SCPA") section 1410 states that "[a]ny person whose interest in property or in the estate of the testator would be adversely affected by the admission of the will to probate may file objections to the probate of the will or of any portion thereof ...." [emphasis added]. The question then becomes - what kind of interest must the person objecting have? Answer: to be an "interested" person who can contest a will, there must be a pecuniary loss.

Estate Administration- When Do the Duties of an Executor Begin

There is great responsibility being the executor of an estate; standards of prudence, vigilance, and care are expected from the executor. An executor is one type of fiduciary (a trustee is another type) and to quote Chief Judge Cardozo from his decision in Meinhard v Salmon (249 N.Y. 458, 464), "[m]any forms of conduct permissible in a workaday world for those acting at arm's length, are forbidden to those bound by fiduciary ties. A trustee is held to something stricter than the morals of the market place. Not honesty alone, but the punctilio of an honor the most sensitive, is then the standard of behavior. As to this there has developed a tradition that is unbending and inveterate. Uncompromising rigidity has been the attitude of courts of equity when petitioned to undermine the rule of undivided loyalty by the 'disintegrating erosion' of particular exceptions (Wendt v. Fischer, 243 N.Y. 439, 444). Only thus has the level of conduct for fiduciaries been kept at a level higher than that trodden by the crowd. It will not consciously be lowered by any judgment of this court."

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