As an experienced NY estate lawyer I am never surprised when estranged relatives of the deceased come out of the woodwork. As a NY will contest lawyer with nearly 50 years of combined legal experience challenging fraudulent wills, I can tell you nothing brings people around like the smell of money.
In August of 2015, 33 year old aspiring actress, E’Dina Hines was murdered by her boyfriend in Manhattan. Hines’s boyfriend stabbed E’Dina several times in her chest for reasons only known to him. Hines’s boyfriend was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
While the struggling actress had yet to make it big in her chosen craft her grandfather, Morgan Freeman, had made it big really big. Morgan Freeman bought E’Dina a one-bedroom apartment in the famed Tudor City area of Manhattan valued at $800,000.00 at the time of her death. To make matters worse, Edward Lee, the father of E’Dina Hines who lives in Atlanta Georgia appeared after her murder looking for his share of her NY estate. However, Lee left both E’Dina and her mother when E’Dina was three years old having nothing to do with either of them in the thirty years since. After E’Dina’s murder Mr. Lee hired a NY estate lawyer to assert his intestacy rights against his estranged daughter’s estate demanding “his” half of the $800,000.00 Tudor City apartment.
Under NY estate law when you pass without a will, E’Dina not unlike most 33 year olds died without a will, everything passes to your next of kin. In this case E’Dina’s next of kin would be her mother, Morgan Freeman’s daughter and her estranged father she had not seen in thirty years.
Can you inherit the estate of an abandoned child?
While Edward Lee never cared to know his daughter in life, he cared to know her plenty in death. For Edward Lee, E’Dina’s estranged father, to assert his intestacy rights against her apartment hardly seems fair. And for the NY estate law to grant him his share of E’Dina’s NY estate would not be the equitable result. Luckily, E’Dina’s grandfather, Morgan Freemen, hired a NY estate lawyer to litigate this issue, objecting to Lee’s petition.
New York State Estate Law provides that a parent or spouse who fails to maintain any continuous or financial support for a child or spouse waives their entitlement to their estate. Once abandonment under the NY Estate Law is established it is deemed that the surviving parent or spouse predeceased the deceased person. In this NY estate it would be determined that the father, Edward Lee predeceased his daughter E’Dina Hines for legal purposes and that her estate be distributed to her biological mother. As a NY estate lawyer I can tell you the NY Surrogate’s Courts look at a variety of factors including whether the relationship consisted of the natural and legal obligations of training, care and guidance.
If the grandfather Morgan Freeman, had not had the resources to hire a NY estate lawyer to argue the parental abandonment issue, a second tragedy would have undoubtedly occurred. Eventually, Morgan Freeman’s NY estate lawyer should knock out the father’s petition on the NY estate law premise of parental abandonment.
But for Morgan Freeman’s gift to his granddaughter of a Tudor City apartment, E’Dina Hines’s natural father would not have come calling after her murder. A parent who abandons their child is deemed to be legally dead for NY estate purposes. Any other result here would only be adding insult to injury in what already has been a horrific family tragedy. In this NY estate, E’Dina Hines’s father is looking for a quick payday using his estranged daughter’s murder as a lottery ticket.
If a friend or loved one passed away with an estranged spouse or parent feel free to call the Law Offices of Jason W. Stern & Associates at (718) 261-2444 to speak with a NY will contest lawyer for a free consultation. Our Queens estate lawyers have 50 years of combined NY estate law experience drafting, probating, contesting and litigating wills for families like yours in the Counties of Queens, New York, Kings, Bronx, Westchester, Rockland, Nassau, Orange, Dutchess as well as in the State of New Jersey.