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Matter of Ranftle

Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division
917 N.Y.S.2d 195 (2011)


Craig Leiby (defendant) and Kenneth Ranftle were lawfully married as a same-sex couple in Canada. After marrying, the couple returned to live in New York. Prior to his death, Kenneth executed a will in which he made bequests to three brothers and a goddaughter. Kenneth left his residuary estate to Leiby and named Leiby as the executor of his estate. After Kenneth died, Leiby filed a petition to probate Kenneth’s will. The petition identified Leiby as Kenneth’s surviving spouse and sole distributee under the will. The Surrogate’s Court issued a decree granting probate of the will after finding that Leiby was Kenneth’s surviving spouse and sole distributee. The court found that the marriage was valid under Canada law, and that the marriage did not fall into either the natural-law exception or the positive-law exception to New York’s marriage-recognition rule. Richard Ranftle (plaintiff), Kenneth’s brother, intervened and filed a complaint to vacate the probate order. Richard alleged that the marriage between his brother and Leiby was against public policy because New York did not recognize same-sex marriages. The Surrogate’s Court denied Richard’s petition. Richard appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning

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