S&C Obtains Surrogate’s Court Victory in Cross-Border Estate Dispute

October 13, 2017

On October 13, S&C obtained on behalf of an estate executor dismissal on summary judgment of objections to probate. Our client is the named executor of the estate of his father, the owner of a significant residential real estate business in New York City. The father’s Last Will and Testament left his estate principally to his son, the executor, and a daughter. His Will disinherited his third child. Despite the explicit language of the Will, the deceased’s disinherited offspring commenced proceedings in France seeking a declaration that she is entitled to a quarter of her father’s estate under French “forced heirship” laws. She contended that—as evidenced by witness testimony, bank records and other documents—her father had changed his domicile from New York to Paris upon retiring, thereby (i) rendering his disinheritance of her ineffective as a matter of French law, and (ii) depriving New York courts of jurisdiction to probate the deceased’s will. The court agreed with S&C’s argument that the jurisdictional objections should be dismissed. The Honorable Rita Mella of the New York County Surrogate’s Court granted the motion to dismiss the objections and directed that the Will be admitted to probate in New York.