Estate of Pasram
Trusts and Estates
Surrogate Nelida Malave-Gonzalez
Objectants, decedent's sister and brother-in-law, moved for summary judgment dismissing the proceeding in which decedent's distributees, his wife and two children, sought to invalidate a change of beneficiary designation for a Metropolitan Life insurance policy naming the sister and brother-in-law beneficiaries. Objectants also sought an order directing MetLife to pay the policy proceeds to them asserting decedent had capacity to effectuate the change. The change form was executed barely two weeks prior to decedent's death while he was hospitalized. The distributees argued decedent was "duped" into signing the form by the sister's representation that it was an authorization for her to represent him in a landlord/tenant proceeding. The court noted objectants did not provide a specific motive for the change form, but suggested decedent and his wife were estranged, yet, the wife controverted such statements in her affidavit. It noted that while decedent naming his spouse and children on health care proxies may not be dispositive of capacity, it demonstrated he was aware of, rather than estranged from them. Hence, it found issues of fact regarding decedent's medical condition and mental status precluded summary judgment.