To the extent that some form of this statute is adopted, it will be interesting to see whether the $100,000 threshold is utilized. The "actual" UTC uses a $50,000 threshold, which the Radigan committee concluded was too low for New York. Regardless of the amount that ultimately be decided upon, the point is that the expense of delays often incident to a court proceeding may be avoided.
New York's body of trust law traditionally has been among the most developed and well-respected in the nation. However, many argue that some portions of it now need to be modernized, clarified, and consolidated. The Radigan committee's proposal that New York adopt a modified version of the UTC has provided the spark that New York needed to consider these issues in a comprehensive, systematic manner.
Joseph T. La Ferlita, counsel at Farrell Fritz, is chairman of the Surrogate's Court Committee and a member of the New York Uniform Trust Code and Estate and Trust Administration Committees of the New York State Bar Association.
1. See, e.g., Appleseed, A Matter of Trusts: Preserving Jobs and Taxes in New York's Personal Trust Business, a Report to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, February 2005.
2. It should be noted that most of the Radigan committee's proposal merely codifies and consolidates current New York trust law. While there are some key changes from current New York law, the proposal does not constitute a wholesale abandonment current New York law.
3. For the sake of full disclosure, the author of this article is an active member of the NYSBA committee currently reviewing the Radigan committee's proposal.
4. Clearly, this selection is in no way exhaustive. For example, a noteworthy provision of the Radigan committee's proposal that would constitute a change from current New York law, the so-called "Quiet Trust" provision, is not discussed here, but was discussed in a previously-published article. See Jonathan J. Rikoon and Louise Ding, "Quiet Trusts and Great Expectations," NYLJ, Sept. 17, 2012. Another significant provision not discussed here is the directed trustee section (Powers to Direct, UTC §808), which adopts a bill drafted by NYSBA currently pending in the legislature, subject to certain recommendations of the Radigan committee.
5. All UTC references are to the Radigan committee's proposed version of the UTC, the numbering of which sometimes differs from the original UTC.
6. In re Estate of Hyman, 14 Misc.3d 1232A, 836 N.Y.S.2d 493 (Sur. Ct. Nassau County 2007).
7. In re Estate of Stahle, NYLJ, Jan. 23, 2001, at 32.
8. In re Patrick, NYLJ, July 9, 2001, at 28, col. 3 (Sur. Ct. Onondaga County 2001).
9. In re Estate of Stahle, NYLJ, Jan. 23, 2001, at 32.
10. See Decision by Surrogate John Czygier (case name not given), NYLJ, Dec. 26, 2007, at 39, col. 4 (Sur. Ct. Suffolk County).