Mistake by judge in creating her estate plan, could have caused major battle in family.

It appears that a New York judge who passed away recently, made a big mistake in her estate plan. However, the family is working it out amicably, according to the New York Post in “Judge who washed up along Hudson cut husband out of her estate.”

Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first African-American woman appointed to New York’s highest court, was recently found dead when her body was found washed up on the bank of the Hudson River.

The exact cause of her death has not been determined.

Police believe it to have been suicide, but they have referred the matter to the medical examiner who has not yet made a determination.

Abdus-Salaam cut her husband out of her will. She left her entire estate to be divided between her mother and siblings. Cutting her husband out, however, was not the big mistake.

At the time of her death, she was married to her fourth husband.

The judge created her will in 2003, when she was in the process of divorcing her third husband and wanted to make sure he did not receive any portion of her estate.

Her mistake was not updating her will after getting remarried.

This could have been a big problem for her estate, since her husband is entitled to the estate under New York law. However, he has waived his claims to receive an inheritance from his wife, which will allow her mother and surviving siblings to receive the estate.

An estate planning attorney can advise you in creating a plan that fits your unique circumstances.

Philip J. Kavesh
Nationally recognized attorney helping clients with customized estate planning guidance for over 40 years.
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