Dismissal of Claim of Foreign ‘Forced Heirship’ Benefits

Matter of De Camaret, N.Y.L.J., Nov. 21, 2007, at 36, 2007 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 8323 (Sur. Ct., N.Y. County), aff’d sub nom., In re Meyer, 62 A.D.3d 133 (1st Dept. 2009)

In the first substantial case to revisit public policy principles enunciated by the highest court of the State of New York some 27 years earlier, attorneys Charles F. Gibbs and Andrew W. Heymann vindicated and enforced the client’s sophisticated international estate plan. Attorneys Gibbs and Heymann were successful before the Surrogate’s Court where the court ruled that the forced heirship laws of France did not prevent the client, a French citizen, from disinheriting her son by lifetime gifts or under her American and Bermuda wills. This decision was subsequently affirmed by the Appellate Division, which found that the forced heirship laws of France were inapplicable to the lifetime gifts of New York property, explaining that the validity of lifetime gifts are governed by the state where the property is situated at the time of the transfer.

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