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Spousal Elective Shares in New York

(333 reviews)

Produced on September 14, 2016

$ 89 Wills, Trusts, & Estates In Stock
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Course Information

Time 51m
Difficulty Intermediate
Topics covered in this course: Wills, Trusts, & Estates

Course Description

The subject of spousal rights is apparent throughout the EPTL and the SCPA, and is a principal concern to estate practitioners in terms of planning and litigation. The purpose of the provisions addressing spousal rights is to promote the financial interests of a surviving spouse, and to provide mechanisms by which these financial interests can be secured and enforced. The most significant spousal protection can be found within the provisions of EPTL § 5-1.1-A – the elective share statute. The elective share statute provides a surviving spouse with a required minimum interest in a decedent’s estate. The elective share amount is based upon a formula set forth in the statute.

The course, led by attorney Ilene Cooper, provides an in-depth discussion of the elective share statute – its application, its exceptions and its enforcement. She reviews the operation and calculation of the elective share, as well as issues, pitfalls and exceptions that may exist in connection with making such an election. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Recognize the time to make an election
  2. Understand the computation of the elective share
  3. Identify testamentary substitutes
  4. Address the issue of standing to assert an elective share
  5. Grasp the impact of waiver of the elective share
  6. Review proceedings to fix and determine a right of election

Credit Information

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Ilene Sherwyn Cooper

Farrell Fritz, P.C.

Ilene Sherwyn Cooper is an estate litigator practicing in Surrogate’s Courts throughout New York and the author of several legislative amendments affecting the laws of inheritance in New York. She has extensive experience administering decedents’ estates, drafting and executing wills and trust instruments, powers of attorney, healthcare proxies and living wills. Previously, she worked as a Principal Law Assistant/Referee for the Surrogate of Suffolk County, Hon. Ernest L. Signorelli.

Ilene has held leadership roles with many state and local professional and community organizations. This includes serving as chair of the New York State Bar Association’s 5,000+ member Trust and Estates Law Section, as a member of the New York State Bar Association’s House of Delegates, as president of the Suffolk County Bar Association, and as a Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Council (ACTEC). She is also an adjunct professor at Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center, where she has been recognized as Adjunct Professor of the Year multiple times. Ilene published the textbook Wills, Trusts and Estates – Essential Tools for the New York Paralegal and is a columnist on trusts and estates practice for the New York Law Journal and an editor of Warren’s Heaton on Surrogate’s Court Practice.

Ilene drafted an amendment to EPTL 5-3.2, increasing inheritance rights of nonmarital children; co-drafted with members of the NYSBA’s Trust and Estates Law Section an amendment to SCPA 2307-a dealing with attorney-fiduciaries; and was instrumental in initiating and spearheading an amendment to SPCA 2211, which provides for discovery prior to the filing of objections in contested accounting proceedings. Ilene also drafted the legislation that disqualifies abusive parents whose rights have been terminated under Social Services Law from receiving an inheritance from the abused child’s estate.


Debora J.

excellent coverage of the issues

Eric P.

The course was really in depth but a little dry (it's hard to punch up elective shares!). The speaker hit upon a couple of cases that provided real world examples. Even more cases next time!

douglas b.

She teaches at the Law School I attended, Touro.

Jacqueline J.

presenter was fantastic and very thorough!

Gary C.

Interesting, useful topic.

Michael W.

Good primer

Katherine D.

Good course

Edgar M.

Excellent, far better format for this presenter than the Will Contest role play

John L.

This presentation was an eye-opener regarding the depth and complexity of an area of law that may at first glance appear deceptively simple. Worth viewing a second time!

Gerry L.

course was full useful info & updates

David O.

The lecturer clearly and concisely presented the material and the material was comprehensive.

Scott K.

Excellent program. Very concise and informative.

Albert P P.

Excellent speaker. I have attended seminars before by her, and she gets better every time.

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