Surrogate Nora Anderson
Before his death, decedent began an action asserting his wife unduly influenced him to execute an irrevocable trust and post-nuptial agreement. Wife moved for summary judgment dismissing the complaint. Decedent consulted attorney Kroll, who was asked to draft a post-nuptial agreement. Kroll testified decedent made clear that it was very important he continue residing in the marital apartment and that the interests of his daughter from a prior marriage were protected. The couple’s two daughters consulted a different law firm to draft trust and post-nuptial instruments. The firm noted their communications were only with the wife, thus their papers favored her and the two daughters, excluding decedent’s other child. Wife claimed decedent willingly signed the agreements, but evidence adduced established that within months of executing the trust, post-nuptial agreement and will, decedent renounced the instruments. The court found each side produced proof sharply contradicting the other. It ruled decedent’s own acts, as well as evidence by the attorneys supported the claim that decedent’s wife coerced him. Thus, as material factual issues exist, summary judgment in wife’s favor was precluded.