In re Gower, 2022-22048

CourtNew York Surrogate Court
Writing for the CourtMichael G. Hayes, J.
Decision Date14 January 2022
PartiesPROBATE PROCEEDING, ESTATE OF Edward J. Gower, a/k/a EDWARD J. GOWER, SR. Deceased.
Docket NumberFile 2021-1050,2022-22048

PROBATE PROCEEDING, ESTATE OF Edward J. Gower, a/k/a EDWARD J. GOWER, SR. Deceased.

No. 2022-22048

File No. 2021-1050

Surrogate's Court, Dutchess County

January 14, 2022


Melissa Manna-Williams, Esq.

Attorney for Petitioner (via NYCEF)

Michael G. Hayes, J.

A probate petition has been filed by Edward J. Gower II as nominated Executor. The Petition requests that the instrument purporting to be the Last Will and Testament of the decedent, Edward J. Gower, a/k/a Edward J. Gower, Sr., dated January 31, 2018, be admitted to probate. The Petition also asks that Edward J. Gower II be appointed as the Executor of the Estate.

The decedent is survived by his spouse (Linda J. Gower) and by his four adult children (Edward J. Gower II, Sara Schillinger, Jennifer White, and Alison Sulinski). The petition originally identified Linda and the four children as Interested Parties of Full Age and Sound Mind. However, by amended petition, Linda has now been identified as a Person Under Disability who resides in a nursing home due to "age and infirmity."

Petitioner has submitted a durable general power of attorney (NY Statutory Short Form) executed by Linda on January 3, 2018, naming Edward II, Jennifer and Alison as her attorneys-in-fact, and authorizing her agents to act separately. Petitioner has requested that this power of attorney be recorded in the Surrogate's Court [EPTL §13-2.3(a)]. In support of this application, the petitioner has also submitted an Affidavit of Attorney-In-Fact describing the circumstances of such appointment and service [Uniform Rules of Surrogate's Court § 207.48].

The propounded will bequeaths all personal property to Linda, and devises the residuary estate to The Edward J. Gower Family Trust. However, the petition states that the Trust was revoked on consent prior to the decedent's death. Therefore, the petition alleges that Linda will inherit all personal property under the will, and the first $50, 000 plus one-half of the residuary estate as a distributee. The petition also alleges that each of the four children will inherit a one-fourth interest in the residuary estate that remains after Linda receives her distribution.

Petitioner has filed Waivers of Process and Consents to Probate that have been executed by Sara, Jennifer, and Alison. A Waiver and Consent has also been executed on behalf of Linda by Alison, as her attorney-in-fact.

The petition is accompanied by a copy of The Edward J. Gower Family Trust, dated January 31, 2018. The Trust is an irrevocable trust that names Linda as the income beneficiary. The Trust also permits the trustees to make certain discretionary payments of trust principal for the benefit of the four children and their issue. Upon Linda's death, the trustees are directed to distribute the trust principal to the four children in equal shares, per stirpes.

The petition is also accompanied by a copy of a Trust Revocation, which was signed in counterparts, the last signature being dated July 7, 2021 (approximately one month prior to decedent's death). The Trust Revocation states that the creator, trustees, and all beneficiaries consent to the termination of the Trust. The Trust Revocation also states that certain improved real...

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