Matter of Ryan
New York Surrogate Court
140 N.Y.S.3d 682 (2021)
William Ryan suffered from a serious illness and sought to execute a will with the help of an attorney, Peter Gorton. Because the COVID-19 pandemic was in full force, Gorton planned to have Ryan execute the will in the parking lot of Gorton’s building as a safety precaution. However, this plan became impossible due to Ryan’s worsening health and hospitalization. Instead, a social worker delivered the original will to Ryan’s hospital room and recorded the execution using a phone, video from which was seen by Gorton and two of his staff via computer. Gorton and Ryan communicated remotely in real time, and the angle of the phone video allowed Gorton and his staff to witness Ryan’s signing of the document. The signed will was then delivered to Gorton’s office, where the staff members executed the attestation clause and a witness affidavit. Ryan died in June 2020, after which his executor, Patricia Picalila, filed a petition for probate. The will came before the county surrogate court for examination.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Guy, J.)
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