January 7, 2019
This responds to your inquiry (18-180) asking if a full-time judge may serve as an alternate trustee of the estate of a long-time family acquaintance1 and former client.
Section 100.4 (E)(1) of the Rules of Judicial Conduct states a judge may serve in that capacity for an instrument executed after January 1, 1974, with the approval of the Chief Administrator of the Courts, for a non-family member “with whom the judge has maintained a longstanding personal relationship of trust and confidence, and then only if such services will not interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties” (see Opinion 11-117).
Thus, you may not serve as an alternate trustee of this estate unless (a) you maintained a “longstanding personal relationship of trust and confidence” and (b) you obtain the Chief Administrative Judge’s approval. We note that Opinion 11-125 sets forth numerous factors, in the “Close Social Relationship” and “Close Personal Relationship” categories, that may support a conclusion that the relationship is one of “personal ...trust and confidence.” You should review these factors to see if the relationship qualifies.
If you and the decedent maintained a “longstanding personal relationship of trust and confidence” and the Chief Administrative Judge approves the appointment, you may serve as alternate trustee, if it does not interfere with the proper performance of judicial duties.
Enclosed, for your convenience, are Opinions 11-125; and 11-117 for your review, which address this issue.
1You have advised that you have known the individual for 15 years and your spouse has known the individual’s spouse for 30 years.
Very truly yours,
George D. Marlow, Assoc Justice
Appellate Div., First Dept. (Ret)
Hon. Margaret T. Walsh
Supreme Court Justice