Woman's $100,000 Bequest to Her Cat Is Upheld

, New York Law Journal


Justice Egan

In an interview Tuesday, Emerson said the fact that House benefits little from the will appeared to help convince the courts that Stafford was not under her influence when the will was revised.

"In my book, she [House] gets to change the kitty litter and that is about it," Emerson said.

But Amy Shapiro of Hinman, Howard & Kattell in Binghamton, who represents the Stafford nephews, contended that Charlotte Stafford became increasingly isolated from her nephews after House began living with her, indicating undue influence.

Citing Matter of Walther, 6 NY2d 49 (1959), and In re Estate of Anna, 248 NY 421 (1928), among other cases, Shapiro said she knows of no cases where New York courts have required that a motive be shown before holding that undue influence was involved in the making of a will.

She also argued that Kissie was jointly owned by both House and Stafford and that it is unusual to, in essence, pay House from the Stafford estate to take care of what is now her own pet.

Shapiro said she was disappointed with the ruling and would consult with the Stafford nephews to determine whether to appeal to the Court of Appeals.

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