The widower of the West Babylon woman who authorities say drove drunk and high on marijuana in the wrong-way Taconic State Parkway crash will declare himself the sole administrator of her estate as he prepares to face lawsuits from the victims' family.
The move is largely a legal formality for Daniel Schuler, whose wife, Diane Schuler, caused the collision, but it allows the family of Yonkers victims Michael Bastardi and Guy Bastardi to move forward with a lawsuit.
The Bastardis' family last month petitioned Suffolk Surrogate Judge John M. Czygier Jr. to have an independent administrator named to oversee Diane Schuler's estate because her husband had not set one up. Czygier set a Nov. 17 deadline.
"It would probably be better for everyone if Danny were appointed the administrator of his wife's estate," said Sonia Crannage, a Suffern attorney for the Bastardis.
"All [the Bastardis] really need is an appropriate defendant," said Schuler's new estate attorney, David A. Smith of Garden City. "So Danny is going to be applying to the court through us to be appointed the administrator of his wife's estate."
Diane Schuler, 36, died in the July 26 crash along with her 2-year-old daughter, three young nieces, the Bastardis and another Yonkers man. Authorities said she was drunk and had marijuana in her system when she drove a minivan with five children almost two miles the wrong way on the Taconic before crashing into a sport utility vehicle carrying the Yonkers men.
Smith said Schuler had no reason to set up an estate. Under New York State law, all jointly owned marital assets pass to the spouse and/or children.