New York Revocable Trust Provisions Must Be Followed

Estate Litigation in New York can arise in connection with many different issues. The Surrogate’s Court is a forum in which matters concerning decedents’ Wills and Trusts are typically dealt with.  The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed in many posts the various documents that comprise a persons estate plan.  These papers include a Last Will, Living Will or Revocable Trust, Health Care Proxy and Living Will.

It is common that a person may create a Living or Revocable Trust along with what is known as a pour-over Will. Briefly stated, the main reason for the creation of a Revocable Living Trust is to avoid probate. Also, the trust provides a means for property management in the event the trust Grantor becomes disabled.It is important for someone who creates a Trust and Last Will to fully understand the reasons for creating these papers and the effect they have on a persons property interests. Typically, once a lifetime trust is created, the Grantor transfers assets such as financial accounts and real estate into the trust to be administered by the Trustee. However, Estate Lawyers sometimes see that the Grantor fails to either make an effective transfer of assets to the trust or does not strictly follow the provisions of the trust. In these situations, litigation in an estate or regarding the management of the Grantor’s property can occur.

A Revocable Trust dispute was the subject of a recent decision by Manhattan Surrogate Rita Mella on October 6, 2016 in Matter of Branch.  In Branch, the decedent had created a revocable trust in 2006 and then transferred title to her condominium to the trust.  It appears that in 2012 the decedent then created another revocable trust.  The Court was presented with the issue as to whether the decedent had effectively revoked or amended the 2006 Trust.  After reviewing the applicable statutes and the terms of the 2006 trust, the Court found that the decedent did not follow the provisions of the 2006 trust regarding a revocation or amendment.   The 2006 trust terms required that the decedent sign and acknowledge a written instrument to effectuate a revocation or amendment.  Since the decedent failed to comply with the specific terms of the 2006 trust, the 2012 trust could not be deemed to have made such a change or revocation.

I have represented clients in connection with the creation of Revocable Trusts and disputes regarding trust issues. If you have a question regarding a Trust or Estate matter, call me now for a free review.

An experienced New York trusts and estates lawyer can assist with guidance for proper Will and Trust preparation and execution and Will contests. New York Probate Attorney Jules Martin Haas, Esq. has been representing clients in New York in Trusts and Estates matters and Surrogate’s Court proceedings throughout the past 30 years in Suffolk and Nassau and other counties. If you or someone you know is involved with or has questions about a New York estate matter, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 or email:, for an initial consultation.

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