2019: A Formidable End To a Formidable Year
February 03, 2020
The final months of 2019 saw decisions that were as impactful as they were instructive. Addressed to digital assets, revocation of wills, the statute of limitations and fiduciary discretion, these decisions are discussed below.
Discovery of Digital Assets Curtailed
The December 2019 column addressed the all-too significant issues surrounding the discovery of digital assets when it reported on the decision of the Surrogate’s Court, Suffolk County in In re Murray, N.Y.L.J., Oct. 7, 2019, at 27. Of equal import and consistent with the result in Murray is the opinion by the Surrogate’s Court, Westchester County in In re Paragon, N.Y.L.J., Dec. 10, 2019, at 25.
Before the court was an SCPA 2103 proceeding, in which the petitioner, as administrator of the decedent’s estate, moved, without opposition, for an order pursuant to EPTL 13-A- 3.1 authorizing the release to her of the contents of electronic communications of the decedent stored in an email account held by Google. In support of the application, the petitioner alleged, inter alia, that the decedent had established and was the sole owner of the subject email account, and transmitted a significant part of his personal email correspondence through this account. In view thereof, the petitioner claimed that access to the account was necessary in order obtain and review the contents of emails to ascertain whether they related to the decedent’s wishes and intent with respect to the real property that was the subject of the subject SCPA 2103 proceeding.
Ilene Sherwyn Cooper is a partner with Farrell Fritz, P.C. in Uniondale, where she concentrates in the area of trusts and estates. She is the past-chair of the New York State Bar Association’s Trusts and Estates Law Section.
Reprinted with permission from New York Law Journal, Monday, February 3, 2020, Vol 263 – No. 22
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