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Judge Made Estate Planning Mistake, Elder Law Attorney, Woodstock, GA


A New York judge who was recently found dead, made a large estate planning mistake. Fortunately, her family appears to have worked everything out amicably.

Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam was the first African-American woman appointed to New York’s highest court. She recently became a national figure not for any of her judicial opinions, but because her body was found washed up on the bank of the Hudson River.

The exact cause of her death is still not known.

Police believe it to have been suicide, but they have referred the matter to the medical examiner who has not yet made a determination.

Despite that uncertainty, her estate is currently being administered. It appears that the judge made a big mistake in her estate plan, as the New York Post reports in “Judge who washed up along Hudson cut husband out of her estate.”

Abdus-Salaam cut her husband out of her will.  She left her entire estate to be divided between her mother and siblings. Cutting her husband out, however, was not the big mistake.

At the time of her death, she was married to her fourth husband.

The judge created her will in 2003, when she was in the process of divorcing her third husband and wanted to make sure he did not receive any portion of her estate.

Her mistake was not updating her will after getting remarried.

This could have been a big problem for her estate, since her husband is entitled to the estate under New York law. However, he has waived his claims to receive an inheritance from his wife, which will allow her mother and surviving siblings to receive the estate.

Reference: New York Post (May 19, 2017) “Judge who washed up along Hudson cut husband out of her estate.”

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