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Property Keyed to Saxer
Gruen v. Gruen
Citation:496 N.E.2d 869 (N.Y. 1986)
CaseCast™ – "What you need to know"
Plaintiff asserts that his father granted him title to a famous oil painting for his 21st birthday but retained a life estate in the property. Plaintiff produced letters from his father to the trial court evidencing this intent. Plaintiff, however, never took possession of the painting nor did he seek to do so. His father retained possession of the painting until his death.
When the father passed away, his wife, Plaintiff’s stepmother, took possession of the painting. Plaintiff sought to take possession of the painting from the stepmother, but she refused on the ground that the prior gift was testamentary in nature and invalid insofar as the formalities of a will were not met. Alternatively, she alleged that a donor may not make a valid inter vivos gift of a chattel and retain a life estate with complete right of possession. Plaintiff sued seeking a declaration that he was the rightful owner of the painting.
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