Breaking NewsLaw.com and associated brands will be offline for scheduled maintenance Friday Feb. 26 9 PM US EST to Saturday Feb. 27 6 AM EST. We apologize for the inconvenience.

 
X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
MINEOLA, N.Y. � The fianc�e of a partner at Cantor Fitzgerald killed in the World Trade Center attacks is not entitled to paychecks that the company electronically deposited into the couple’s joint bank account a few days after he died, a judge has ruled. However, the judge determined that the money held in the couple’s joint accounts at the time of his death belonged to the fianc�e, despite a lack of signature cards showing joint ownership. Queens Surrogate Judge Robert L. Nahman found that since the Cantor Fitzgerald partner, Vincent Slavin, could have changed his “direct-deposit scheme” during his lifetime, the transfer of two paychecks into the joint account was not a gift of future earnings, as his fianc�e had argued. The judge upheld what he called the presumption that the accounts were created with a right of survivorship favoring the fianc�e. The decision in Matter of Slavin, 4277-2001, means that the fianc�e, Anna Baez, is entitled to more than $656,500 in the joint accounts but that the $58,264 deposited on Sept. 14, 2001, will go to his estate. The ruling granted partial summary judgment to the administrator of Mr. Slavin’s estate, the petitioner, for the smaller amount and granted summary judgment to Ms. Baez, the respondent, for the larger amount. The sole distributee is Mr. Slavin’s 14-year-old son. The boy’s maternal grandmother, Mary Jelnik, is his guardian and the administrator of Mr. Slavin’s estate. She petitioned the court for the funds. Mr. Slavin earned $2 million a year, said Ms. Baez’s attorney, Jenni Spiritis of Thaniel J. Beinert & Associates in Brooklyn. She said she anticipates counsel for Ms. Jelnik to appeal. John Catterson of Bondy & Schloss in New York represented Ms. Jelnik. He said he disagreed with the judge “on the law and facts.” He said that his client is considering whether to appeal. In determining that the electronically deposited money did not belong to Ms. Baez, the judge considered her argument that Mr. Slavin’s act of setting up a direct-deposit of his salary and commissions into his checking account constituted a gift to her of his future earnings. Ms. Baez argued that the direct deposit constituted a valid inter vivos gift � a gift given from one living person to another � though Mr. Slavin retained the right to possession during his lifetime. For support, Ms. Baez relied on a seminal 1986 Court of Appeals decision, Gruen v. Gruen, 68 NY2d 48. There, the court held that a valid inter vivos gift of an ownership interest in a certain painting could be made, even though the grantor retained the right to the possession of the painting for the rest of his life. Surrogate Nahman found the matter before him distinguishable from the Gruen case. “The transfer of ownership must be irrevocable in order for the gift to be complete,” he wrote, citing Matter of Bobeck, 143 AD2d 90, 1988. “In the instant matter, the decedent had retained the right to change the direct-deposit scheme during his lifetime. His future earnings were not irrevocably transferred by the decedent during his lifetime and, thus, no gift was made.” As for the $656,500 in three separate joint accounts at the time of Mr. Slavin’s death, the judge first determined whether the three accounts were held with the right of survivorship. The administrator had argued that because the original signature cards cannot be located, Ms. Baez could not satisfy the requirements of New York Banking Law �675 (b) and that, therefore, there was no presumption of a joint account with rights of survivorship for the accounts at JP Morgan Chase Bank. Ms. Baez said the signature cards were destroyed on Sept. 11 at the bank’s branch located in the World Trade Center. Surrogate Nahman reasoned that the presumption existed since three bank employees testified that at the time the couple’s accounts were established, all joint accounts at the bank contained the following language: “Accounts with multiple owners are joint, payable to either owner or the survivor.” The judge said that with the statutory presumption in place, the burden shifted to the administrator to establish fraud, undue influence or lack of capacity, or to produce evidence supporting an inference that the accounts had been opened as a matter of convenience only. The administrator’s presented “absolutely no evidence” to show fraud, undue influence or lack of capacity, the judge wrote, adding that an attempt to prove “convenience only,” was without merit. “Decedent was a bright, educated stock trader who was in no need to have convenience accounts created on his behalf,” he wrote. “The bank statements and cancelled checks indicated that the decedent knew that Respondent Anna Baez used the accounts for her own benefit and he did not object.” The judge dismissed the petition against JP Morgan Chase Bank and JP Morgan Fund Distributors. Brian F. Corrigan, with Holland & Knight, represented the bank.

This content has been archived. It is available through our partners, LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law.

To view this content, please continue to their sites.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Not a Bloomberg Law Subscriber?
Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law are third party online distributors of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® and Bloomberg Law customers are able to access and use ALM's content, including content from the National Law Journal, The American Lawyer, Legaltech News, The New York Law Journal, and Corporate Counsel, as well as other sources of legal information.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2021 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.