Answers to Common Questions and Situations

We know how complex and confusing probate situations can be, and did our best to organize an easy to follow knowledge base to help address some of your most pressing questions. Get in Touch
with our team if you still have questions or can’t find what you’re looking for.

Parents, Promises and Agreements, and Probate

Family members make a lot of promises to one another over the course of lifetimes. Not all of them are, of course, carried out. Not even the best intentioned ones. So, what happens to a mother’s estate deep into the probate process when a son tries to enforce a promise given years earlier?

We’re about to find out. A Surrogate’s Court in New York State is supervising the probate of Nicolina Dispirato’s estate. A fairly modest estate comprised of a lot of personal items that have sentimental value and a small apartment house in East New York that was dirt cheap when it was bought a generation ago but is now valued at around $1 million.

You may not have heard of Nicolina, but you very well may have heard of her son, Rocco Dispirito. Rocco burst into the restaurant scene in the late 1990’s when he opened a legendary restaurant in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park area. Since then he has has his own reality TV shows, been on Dancing with the Stars, made guest appearances on TV dramas, appeared on Celebrity Top Chef, was a judge on the same show, the list goes on and on and on.

Nicolina died in 2013, aged 87. She left half the estate to Rocco and the other half to be divided equally between his two siblings. Nicolina spent some of her last years in an assisted living facility, Rocco paid for it, the division of the estate seems to be Nicolina’s way of acknowledging that.

So, simple. But, if you follow our blog at all you know nothing we post about is simple. Rocco, who was named executor of the estate in his mother’s will, wants more. Specifically, he wants the estate to reimburse him for the $1.5 million he claims he spent on his mother’s upkeep in the last years of her life.

He further clams that not only did his mother promise to reimburse him, at some point she signed an agreement – an i.o.u, if you will for $1.14 million, what she felt ‘obligated’ to repay at the time.

Rocco, as executor, is refusing to sell the apartment house until he gets what he wants, leaving his brother and sister high and dry.

There’s more, like the fact that Nicolina not only worked for Rocco, she was a big part of his TV presence. One could argue that he made it as big as he did because of his mother and her famous meatballs – she made hundreds a day for his restaurants.

Can a promise to reimburse a child for assisted living costs be enforced in probate court? We’ll  soon see, but we have to think that asking a parent to sign a repayment agreement while in assisted living could easily be seen as coercive. Think of what the parent may think the consequences of ‘no’ may be.


Schedule A Consultation Today

Compassionate listeners, knowledgeable guidance. Schedule a free consultation with our experienced attorneys and let us help you and your family with your legal concerns.

GET IN TOUCH 770-796-4685

Download the Georgia Probate Handbook.

Learn Important Probate Essentials, including key things that go wrong in an estate, how to prevent them, and what to do if they happen.

First Name(Required)
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

About the author

Erik J. Broel
Founder & ceo

Erik founded the firm in 2009. He sees it as his personal mission to demystify the process of handling an estate or trust, and to help people by making the complex estate process simple and accessible. He believes there is always a better way to do things, and loves finding new and innovative ways to deliver better, more effective service that solves the client’s key problem or issue, and improves the client’s life.

More about Erik
logos-image logos-image logos-image

© 2024 Georgia Probate Law Group by Broel Law, LLC. All rights reserved.