Surrogate John Czygier Jr.
In a probate proceeding of apparent first impression, petitioner sought a construction of decedent’s will regarding gifts. Paragraph 4 sought to bequeath to Peconic Landing Community Fund $50,000, and $100,000 to Peconic Landing Employees Appreciation Fund. Petitioner sought a determination that the bequests not be affected by the attesting witnesses’ employment of Peconic Landing at the time of the will’s execution, and being members of a class who may benefit from the fund. The issue was if a “beneficial disposition” was made to the attesting witnesses. The court found that as the exclusive purpose of the community fund was to benefit residents of Peconic Landing, no “beneficial disposition” was made to the attesting witnesses, and the bequest under paragraph 4 stood. However, it noted as all three attesting witnesses were members of the class of people who may benefit from the Appreciation Fund, the court concluded there was a “beneficial disposition” to them. As such, the court ruled that the bequest under paragraph 5 was void under Estates, Powers and Trusts Law §3-3.2(a)(1).