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Estate of Hillowitz

Court of Appeals of New York
238 N.E.2d 723 (1968)


Abraham Hillowitz was a partner in an “investment club” (the Club). The Club’s partnership agreement provided, in part, “In the event of the death of any partner, his share will be transferred to his wife, with no termination of the partnership.” Consistent with this agreement, the investment club paid Abraham’s widow (defendant) $2,800 upon his death. The executors of Abraham’s will (plaintiffs) then petitioned the court seeking to recover Abraham’s share of the Club from his widow so that it could be included in the estate. The executors claimed that the provision transferring ownership of the share to Abraham’s widow upon his death was an ineffective attempt at a testamentary disposition. Abraham’s widow opposed the executors’ petition claiming that Abraham’s share in the club was paid to her pursuant to a valid contract. The Surrogate court denied the petition and the executors appealed to the Appellate Division which held that the Club’s partnership agreement was an ineffective attempt to make a testamentary disposition. Abraham’s widow appealed to the Court of Appeals of New York.

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