Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Surrogate Court is Rubinstein’s Family Business

"Near the poster is a placard for his father, E. Ivan Rubenstein, the Surrogate of Brooklyn from 1950 to 1955. Not far away is a poster of Seth's grandfather, Moe Rubenstein, who was once tax appraiser in Brooklyn Surrogate's Court. Though Seth Rubenstein has never run for Surrogate, he has practiced probate law for nearly 33 years. His son, Joshua, does likewise for Rosenman & Colin in Manhattan.

The Rubenstein collection also includes advertisements for Bernard Bloom, the incumbent Brooklyn Surrogate; a painting of Nathan Sobel, one of Judge Bloom's predecessors; and a collage fashioned from Lambert campaign literature, supplied by Mrs. Lambert herself. The collage is precisely the same size as the poster and actually is better positioned, because it is not obscured whenever someone opens his hallway door." -NY Times, July 17,1992
A list of appointments furnished by OCA going back to 1975 recorded Mr. Rubenstein as receiving 73 fee awards from cases in which he had been appointed as a fiduciary by judges in either Surrogate's or Supreme Court. Mr. Rubenstein disputed the list's accuracy, however, stating that in 36 of those cases a judge had not appointed him but instead had approved the payment of his fees for work he had done as an attorney for the family or a bank. As a guardian ad litem appointed in the case of tobacco heiress Doris Duke, Mr. Rubenstein said, he was awarded an $88,350 fee. -NY Law Journal, August 21, 2008
The reclusive tobacco heiress Doris Duke, who died in 1993, wanted her estate of $1.2 billion to go toward the improvement of humanity. But a dispute over the estate in Manhattan Surrogate's Court became what one lawyer called the "world series of litigation," with big name law firms vying for a piece of the pie.
"The dispute that played out in Surrogate's Court was, in the words of one lawyer, ``the World Series of litigation,'' with big-name law firms playing for big stakes. Now the contest over Duke's estate has gone into extra innings. The prizes this time are legal and estate administration fees that already amount to $10 million and probably will more than double when all of the requests are filed with the court. Lawyers flew across country charging their hourly rate as they went, sometimes as high as $450 an hour. They stayed in New York City's finest hotels. And in court appearances and meetings, clients often were represented by multiple lawyers, causing a gridlock of expensive suits and large briefcases." - NYTimes, January 24, 1997


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