Matter of Estate of Hart

Trusts and Estates

New York Law Journal


Surrogate Edward McCarty III

Executor Holahan sought a determination on whether this court or the one in Puerto Rico was the proper forum to adjudicate the instant controversy. This motion resulted from the Puerto Rico court's judgment which deferred to this court the issue of whether the underlying claims should be adjudicated here or there. Holahan preferred the Puerto Rican court, while respondent Bonet preferred the instant forum where decedent's will was probated and the parties reside. The substantive issues were whether Bonet violated a trust's no-contest clause, thus forfeiting her rights, and if she also forfeited her rights under decedent's will, which did not contain such clause. The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico opined it was not adequate to deduce if the clause was breached, finding the New York court was the most appropriate forum as all trust and will connections were in that forum. This court concluded, after balancing the equities, that it was best if a New York court determined New York law regarding a New York will and trust. The court acknowledged the Puerto Rico court's decision and deference, and agreed to determine all issues related to decedent's estate and trust, except Bonet's community property claim.

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