Executor might have to make judgment call

Jul 15, 2011 - LegalZoom News Sources
The fate of a Massachusetts woman's estate depends on a ruling from the Vatican.

The case of Irene Kuzontkoski, a Northampton, Massachussetts, woman who bequeathed all her assets to a local Catholic parish, might end up illustrating the importance of having a trusted executor to carry out one's last will and testament, the Daily Hampshire Gazette reports.

According to the Gazette, Kuzontkoski's will specified all her assets were to be granted to St. Mary of the Assumption Church. But after she died in 2009, church officials announced the parish would close. An appeal was lodged with the Vatican to reverse this decision, and while that petition is considered, Kuzontkoski's money is in limbo.

The Hampshire Gazette reports the Catholic Church believes Kuzontkoski's bequest, which the church estimates to be around $720,000, should be given to a newly formed parish, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. But Kuzontkoski's executor, attorney William Dwyer, sought guidance from a civil court, which ruled the money should not be distributed until the Vatican decides on the fate of St. Mary's. If the church does not reopen, Dwyer will have to rely on his interpretation of Kuzontkoski's intentions to decide what to do with her money.

In May, the Canton Repository reported on a local Ohio woman who stipulated in her will that her property be left to Christian organization Haven of Rest and used as a church. Haven of Rest is selling the property for $1.4 million.