Matter of Estate of Steffy

NEW YORK COUNTY
Trusts and Estates

New York Law Journal

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Surrogate Nora Anderson

Petitioner daughter, an ancillary beneficiary, sought a turnover of funds of decedent's retirement annuity accounts (RAA). Respondent Mammolito, decedent's ex-girlfriend, claimed to be the sole beneficiary of the accounts, moving for summary judgment. Decedent owned four RAA's with TIAA-CREF. Petitioner sought payment after decedent's death, but was told that decedent submitted a form in 2002 designating Mammolito as the sole primary beneficiary, and the designation remained in force. Petitioner argued decedent attempted to revoke such designation, claiming, also, the designation to Mammolito was defective. Petitioner argued TIAA-CREF failed to follow its own rules and procedures in order to effect a change to the designation. The court found decedent's intent was not readily discernible as the documentary evidence was conflicting. Thus, affording petitioner the benefit of all favorable inferences, it concluded some limited additional discovery was warranted, permitting petitioner the opportunity to depose Mammolito regarding her knowledge of the circumstances surrounding execution of the 2002 form. Thus, Mammolito's motion was held in abeyance.

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