NY Gay Couple Not Married Couldn’t Have Been Divorced…Duh

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A very strange case got some attention in the New York Law Journal this week.  New York County Surrogate Nora S. Anderson has (sensibly) ruled in the Matter of Leyton, 2013-4842/A/B, NYLJ 1202730202742, at *1 (Surr., NY, Decided June 16, 2015) [hyperlink is to a subscription site-sorry] that the New York statute (EPTL 1.4) providing for the automatic revocation upon divorce of bequests and fiduciary appointments in favor of a former spouse could not apply to a same-sex couple who has never married in the first place.

Reading between the lines of the decision, it appears that the decedent’s mother and sister were upset that the decedent appointed as executor and made substantial death-time gifts to his former romantic partner.  The mother and sister tried to argue that because the couple had a commitment ceremony in 2002, but later broke up, the couple was “divorced” for purposes of New York law.  Surrogate Anderson did not agree, and the bequests to the former partner and fiduciary appointment were upheld.


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