Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

N.Y. Court Allows Distributions to Two Widows

New yorkA summary of In re Estate of Diba, 2010 WL 2696611 (N.Y. Sur. 2010), provided by Bruce S. Johnson (Thomas J. and Mary E. Heck and Leo H. Faust Memorial Designated Professor of Law, Moritz College of Law), is below:

The decedent, a resident and citizen of Senegal, fell down an elevator shaft in New York City. The wrongful death suit was settled.  According to New York's statute of descent and distribution, a portion of these proceeds goes to the decedent's surviving spouse. Thus the question: what happens when the decedent has two spouses, which is entirely legal in Senegal, but where another NY statute bars distribution to spouses of a bigamous marriage?

The Surrogate Court ruled that since bigamy is legal in Senegal, and since the decedent was a citizen and resident of Senegal, the spousal share could be shared by the two widows. The Guardian ad litem for the children did not object as the ruling did not reduce the share going to the children. 


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