Trusts and Estates Spring 2024 Meeting

Trusts and Estates Law Section Spring 2024 Meeting

April 17-19, 2024
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa
Sonoma, CA

Early Bird (through March 15, 2024)
$975 T&E Section member / $1,050 NYSBA member

After March 15
$1,175 T&E Section member / $1,250 NYSBA member

NYSBA Non-Member Rate- $1,500
Guest Pass-$600

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.


3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Executive Committee Meeting

6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Welcome Reception

7:30 p.m.

Dinner on your own

Thursday, April 18, 2024

8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.


8:00 – 9:00 a.m.


Open to all registered attendees including spouses and guests. Coffee will be available throughout the morning.

9:00 – 12:40 p.m.

General Session

9:00 a.m. – 9:10 a.m.

Opening Remarks

9:10 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Surrogate’s Court Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction of various proceedings in Surrogate’s Court has been determined by constitutional and statutory grants, as well as defining case law which explains when Surrogate’s Court has subject matter jurisdiction, and when it does not. This session will discuss the expansions and limitations of the Court’s jurisdiction as well as the matters in which there is concurrent jurisdiction with other courts. The bifurcated nature and determination of personal injury and wrongful death proceedings will also be discussed.


Hon. Stacy L. Pettit | Albany County Surrogate’s Court, Albany, NY

1.0 Credit in Areas of Professional Practice

10:00 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.

Supplemental Needs Trust Administration & Litigation in Surrogate’s Court

The session will cover the establishment and administration of First Party and Third-Party Supplemental Needs Trusts in Surrogate’s Court. The current service delivery system to support individuals with disabilities and its failures will be the focus. Fiduciaries must look at their responsibilities and guide their decision making about the use of Supplemental Needs Trusts assets. The session will also cover the challenges and disputes that can arise during Trust administration, particularly when traditional rules governing actions by counsel and by fiduciaries are poorly defined and inconsistently applied. Suggested procedures to safeguard fiduciary decision making will be reviewed.


Tara Anne Pleat, Esq. | Wilcenski & Pleat PLLC, Clifton Park, NY

1.0 Credit in Areas of Professional Practice

10:50 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Coffee Break with Exhibitors

11:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.

Kinship Proceedings: Planning to Include or Avoid DNA Relatives

Case law around DNA testing in the world of trusts and estates continues to evolve. And the introduction of direct-to-consumer genetic kits (i.e. 23andMe, AncestryDNA) in recent years has expanded the playing field for "DNA relatives" to appear in estate proceedings. This presentation will discuss estate planning considerations to avoid the issue of claims to inheritance by "DNA relatives". There will also be a review of current case law, discussing applications for DNA testing and results, impact on kinship proceedings, and other considerations for estate administration.


Amanda L. Lowe, Esq. | Phillips Lytle LLP, Buffalo, NY

Sharon L. Wick, Esq. | Phillips Lytle LLP, Buffalo, NY

1.0 Credit in Areas in Professional Practice

11:50 a.m. – 12:40 p.m.

Estate planning Considerations for Current or Former California Residents

Estate planning considerations for current or former California residents. This presentation will focus on two topics: California community property, and California real property taxation. Unlike New York and 40 other states, California uses the community property system. Instead of treating each spouse as an individual with separate property rights, California presumes that each spouse contributes income and assets to the "community" of the spouses, and shares equally in any earnings, assets, and debts of the community. A tax advantage of community property is that the surviving spouse will receive a step-up in income tax basis at the death of the first spouse. We will discuss how to preserve this step-up where possible. Another feature peculiar to California is its complicated property tax system. Lifetime transfers of California real property (community or otherwise) can trigger an expensive property tax reassessment. We will discuss how to avoid these reassessments where possible.


Christina Chan, Esq. | Falcon Rappaport & Berkman LLP, Rockville Centre, NY

Andrew Gradman, Esq. | Falcon Rappaport & Berkman LLP, Rockville Centre, NY

Michael B. Shapiro, Esq. | Falcon Rappaport & Berkman LLP, Rockville Centre, NY

1.0 Credit in Areas in Professional Practice

12:40 p.m.


12:40 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Free Time

6:30 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Reception & Dinner

Friday, April 19, 2024

8:00 a.m. – 8:55 a.m.

Committee Breakfast Meetings

8:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.


8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m.

Continental Breakfast and Exhibitors

Open to all registered attendees including spouses and guests. Grab a bite and visit with our exhibitors. Coffee will be available throughout the morning.

8:55 a.m. – 12:50 p.m.

General Session

9:00 a.m. – 9:10 a.m.

Opening Remarks

9:10 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Probating a Copy of Will or Restating a Missing Trust

New York law contains statutory provisions for proving and probating lost or destroyed wills and testamentary trusts although there are no similar statutory provisions for lifetime trusts. Despite the absence of a statutory framework for lost lifetime trusts, there is New York case law that has consistently held that the absence of the executed original lifetime trust agreement does not prevent the finding that a lifetime trust exists. There is also proposed legislation that would provide a statutory framework to prove lost or destroyed lifetime trusts. This session will examine the case law and the proposed and existing statutory provisions that govern lost wills and trusts and will highlight the associated burdens of proof and procedural requirements necessary to probate a lost will or restate a missing trust.


Eva-Marie Cusack, Esq. | Richmond County Surrogate’s Court, Staten Island, NY

1.0 Credit in Areas of Professional Practice

10:00 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.

Estate Planning for the Multinational Client

The upward trend of multinationals – people with a connection to more than one country – requires practitioners to expand their knowledge of estate planning in the international context. The main areas in which estate planning for multinationals is unique will be addressed – the coordination of Wills in more than one country, determination of residency, practicalities of estate administration among jurisdictions, the federal estate tax and gifting in the international context and patterns of multinational individuals.


Paula M. Jones, Esq. | Jones Estate Group, Inc., Philadelphia, PA

1.0 Credit in Areas of Professional Practice

10:50 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Coffee Break

11:00 a.m. – 11:50 p.m.

Diversity Estate Litigation

This presentation will explore implicit bias in the practice of law, with insights from both the bench and bar, including what we are doing, and what we can do better. The presentation will also review issues related to equal access to justice for all litigants, including resources and assistance for pro se litigants from underrepresented communities, recent legislative changes, and proposals to relieve unnecessary burdens on litigants and non-parties, as well as limited representation.


Jennifer F. Hillman, Esq. | Rivkin Radler LLP, Uniondale, NY

Hon. Rita M. Mella | New York County Surrogate's Court, New York, NY

1.0 Credit in Diversity, Inclusion and Elimination of Bias

11:50 a.m. – 12:40 p.m.

Surrogate Panel: Can You Do This in Surrogate’s Court?

Hon. Stephen W. Cass | Chautauqua County Surrogates Court, Mayville, NY

Hon. Peter J. Kelly | Queens County Surrogate’s Court, Jamaica, NY

Hon. Acea M. Mosey | Erie County Surrogate’s Court, Buffalo, NY

Hon. Margaret C. Reilly | Nassau County Surrogate’s Court, Mineola, NY

Hon. Brandon R. Sall | Westchester County Surrogate’s Court, White Plains, NY

1.0 Credit in Areas in Professional Practice

12:40 p.m. – 12:50 p.m.

Closing Remarks and Adjourn

Boxed lunch to go will be provided

Where: Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa 100 Boyes Boulevard | Sonoma, CA 95476

Main Hotel: 707-938-9000

The room block has officially closed, but if you are still looking to book a room please contact Kate Tortora [email protected] or 518-487-5580 and provide your name, contact information as well as the nights you will be staying and your preferred type of room.

Room rates begin at $349 per night with an additional Resort Experience Fee of $49 per night. This added fee includes the following:

  • Self-parking
  • Unlimited basic internet access in guest rooms and resort public areas- wireless and wired
  • On-site shuttle service to Sonoma Plaza or Sonoma Golf Club (based upon availability, not available for group transfers*)
  • Guest amenity kit including hand sanitizer, face mask and disinfecting wipes
  • Access to PressReader, digital newspaper app
  • Use of bicycles, based on availability
  • Coffee and Tea in the lobby 7am to 11 am
  • Lawn games and bocce ball court
  • Wine Country welcome bottle of wine (in-room)
  • Daily wine tasting 4:30pm-5:30pm
  • Docent-led hikes on Saturday and Sunday*
  • Local, domestic long distance and toll free calls
  • Art Gallery rotating exhibit
  • Sparkling Wine Country arrival experience
  • Bottled water (in-room)
  • In room fitness instruction
  • Yoga and fitness classes
  • Access to fitness center

Descriptions of our guest rooms are available on our website at or otherwise available by calling our Global Reservations Centre at 1-800-441-1414.

Travel to and From the Hotel:

Please note that lyfts, ubers and taxis are NOT accessible in Sonoma, CA.  It is encouraged to either rent a vehicle or you may book transportation for departure through Pure Luxury: Guests will be able to take a lyft, uber, taxi into Sonoma, just not for departure.

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