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In re May’s Estate

Court of Appeals of New York
114 N.E.2d 4 (N.Y. 1953)


Sam May traveled with his niece by half-blood, Fannie May, from New York to Rhode Island, where the Mays were married in a traditional Jewish ceremony. Later, Sam and Fannie had six children. After Fannie’s death, Alice Greenberg (plaintiff), one of the children, filed a petition for the letters of administration of Fannie’s estate in New York. Sam objected, arguing that as the surviving husband, pursuant to state law, Sam had a superior right to administer Fannie’s estate. Greenberg, along with two of her sisters, argued that Sam was not the surviving spouse of Fannie, because the Mays’ marriage, although valid in Rhode Island, was contrary to the laws of New York. The trial court agreed and held in favor of Greenberg. Sam appealed. The appellate court reversed and concluded that the marriage between Sam and Fannie was valid in New York, because the degree of consanguinity of uncle and niece was not repugnant to state statute. Greenberg and her sisters appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Lewis, C.J.)

Dissent (Desmond, J.)

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