The death of a family member or friend can present challenges both emotionally and legally. Clearly, the personal impact of the loss cannot be immediately remedied.
Moreover, business and financial decisions must be made and action taken to settle the decedent’s estate. These include the collection of assets and the payment of bills and taxes. Handling the Court process involved with the appointment of an Executor or Administrator can be complex. There may be many different types of issues relating to kinship, asset protection, Will interpretation, estate taxes and other factors that require resolution before a decedent’s estate can be settled.
Initially, it is essential to determine whether a decedent had prepared a Last Will or died intestate (without a Will). This is necessary because the Surrogate's Court procedure on disposition of estate assets will be different in each instance. It is also a good idea at the outset to obtain advice from an experienced New York Estate Lawyer who is familiar with the estate laws and Court requirements.
Both probate and administration proceedings in the Surrogate's Court require the preparation and filing of petitions and other papers that support the appointment of an estate fiduciary. The petition contains information consisting of the names and addresses of the decedent's distributees, Will beneficiaries and named executors and trustees as well as an estimate of the value of the estate.
Preparing and filing papers for the Court and then actually handling the estate can be complicated. The petitioner and the fiduciary that is finally appointed assume a large responsibility for the proper administration of all of the decedent's affairs. This may include representing the estate's interest in a Will contest if third parties claim that the Will that is offered for probate is not valid. A Will Contest can involve claims of undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity and lack of due execution.
Petitions for probate or administration are typically filed in the Surrogate's Court in the county where the decedent was domiciled. Thus, if the person who died had his primary home in Manhattan, the estate proceedings would be filed in the New York County Surrogate's Court.
All of these Courts are controlled by the same laws and rules as contained in the Surrogate's Court Procedure Act and Estates, Powers and Trusts Law. Sometimes, each individual Court may have slightly different procedural rules regarding the filing of documents and Court calendars and procedure. An experienced New York probate attorney can usually assist with determining the appropriate rules.
I have many years of experience representing clients with estate settling. I have represented executors and administrators and am very familiar with the Surrogate's Court procedures required in estate settlement. I work closely with my clients in all aspects of estate settlement to make the process as efficient as possible. I have helped many clients with probate and administration matters throughout New York.
For personalized attentive service and a free case evaluation you can contact me by telephone (212) 355-2575, fax (212) 751-5911 or fill out my contact form. I look forward to talking with you.