Surrogate John M. Czygier, Jr.


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In this underlying probate proceeding, respondent distributee moved to compel petitioner Geminder, the nominated executrix and sole beneficiary, to comply with discovery demands in a matter regarding the validity of decedent’s purported will, offered for probate, that was executed one month before his 93rd birthday. In anticipation of scheduled SCPA 1404 examinations, respondent served a demand for discovery and inspection on Geminder’s counsel, who failed to respond. After several “good faith” reminders of non-compliance, counsel, indicated as no executor was appointed for the estate, there was no one with authorization to information to answer the interrogatories, nor were they able to obtain the information. Yet, respondent pointed out that certain items focused on information or documents available from law firm files, and others available to petitioner. The court stated the early stage of this proceeding did not prohibit discovery, as respondents had the right ti inquire regarding the validity of the purported will, and many of movant’s demands were relevant and critical to such inquiry. While some demands concerning decedent’s assets and tax returns, were overly broad at this juncture, and denied, the court granted the remainder, compelling petitioner to respond.