What Happens to Decedents & Their Estates?

A decedent refers to someone who dies with or without a will. The estate of a decedent is like a business. The business is run by a Court appointed Executor or Administrator who collects the decedent’s assets, pays the debts, taxes and expenses and distributes the net estate to the appropriate parties. A New York City decedent's estate lawyer can explain how this process works.

The estate administration process will vary depending upon whether the decedent had a Last Will or died intestate i.e, without a Last Will. Different Court proceedings will be required so that a fiduciary such as an Executor or Administrator can be appointed to administer and settle the decedent's estate.

Decedents estates vary in size of assets, issues and complexities. Issues that may be confronted include those relating to claims from the decedent's unpaid creditors, income or estate tax matters, kinship disputes and the sale of assets owned by the decedent such as real property or business interests. Some estates involve estate litigation or estate contests concerning these issues. A decedent's estate lawyer can help New York City residents navigate any disputes.

The administration of a decedent's estate and the appointment of fiduciaries is handled through the New York Surrogate's Courts.  These Courts are located in the various counties in New York such as Queens Surrogate's Court, Kings County Surrogate's Court and New York County Surrogate's Court.  Proceedings in the Surrogate's Courts usually require that a decedent's distributees (i.e. next of kin) and other interested parties such as estate creditors be given proper notice of the Court proceedings. The most common form of notice in these matters is called a Citation which is like a Summons in a more typical civil lawsuit.  The Citation will be served upon the interested party and give the party notice as to the time and place where the Surrogate's Court proceeding is to be held.

Depending upon the type of proceeding, the matter will move forward according to various procedures many of which are found in the New York Surrogate's Court Procedure Act.  For example, if the case involves the Probate of a Will, the Court process can consist of the filing of Objections and obtaining the testimony of the witnesses to the Will and the attorney who drafted the Will.  If the case concerns an intestate decedent, there may be a dispute as to which of the decedent's next of kin should be appointed as Administrator.

In all such matters, the advice and guidance of an experienced New York City decedent's estate attorney is essential.  New York attorneys are familiar with the procedures that concern responding to a Citation.  In many instances the party served with the Citation must file an Answer to an underlying Petition or it may be appropriate to file Objections or a cross-petition.  Obtaining experienced advice regarding trust and estate matters is beneficial and can be the difference in successfully protecting a person's estate rights.

I have helped many clients who were Executors or Administrators administer decedent’s estates. I work closely with clients to help them obtain their desired goals and the successful completion of their legal matter.

To contact me regarding any questions or concerns call (212) 355-2575 or fill out my contact form for a free appointment with a decedent's estate attorney in New York City.