Successful contemporary art dealer Andre Zarre passed away and left his massive multi-million dollar estate solely to a deli worker, who was also nominated as Executor to the estate. Does this situation strike our readers as a legal result that can be contested? The answer is yes, for the reasons discussed in this post.
Although Zarre was a successful art dealer, his entrepreneurial spirit led to his eventual ownership of a Queens deli. The deli worker Jose Yeje was either in charge of the deli or a co-owner, depending upon the version of events that one wants to believe. Zarre’s health deteriorated to the extent that he eventually became legally blind, had significant mobility issues, and advanced heart disease. At the same time, the relationship between Zarre and Yeje progressed to the point that Yeje became Zarre’s trusted caretaker. Then, Zarre signed the subject Will, shortly before his death.
When an estate is administered , the executor of a will needs to obtain waivers from those who could inherit under New York’s intestacy statute . Otherwise, such persons maintain their legal right to challenge the will being sought to be admitted to probate. Yeje’s legal counsel approached Zarre’s cousin to obtain such a waiver. The cousin was shocked because Zarre had previously promised to leave his estate to the cousin and potentially other relatives. It will remain to be seen how the Surrogate’s Court will evaluate the validity of this promise. When a waiver is not delivered, the proponent of the will then needs to serve the person requested to waive with a citation to attend a Court appearance for the purpose of raising legal issues why the will should not be admitted to probate.