NY State Probate Process
Probate is the procedure by which a person's Will is given validity by the Court. The probate New York State process can be complex. A formal petition, the original Will, witness affidavits and proper notice to family members and others are among the papers required in the New York State probate process.
Probate of a Last Will occurs in the Surrogate's Court. For the most part, there is a Surrogate's Court located in each county in New York such as the Queens Surrogate's Court, Kings (Brooklyn) Surrogate's Court and New York (Manhattan) Surrogate's Court.
The New York Probate Process is guided by two primary sources of law. One is the Estates, Powers and Trusts Law ("EPTL") and the other is the Surrogate's Court Procedure Act ("SCPA"). These statutes, along with various Court decisions and rules, provide the basis for probating a New York Will. When a person dies without a Last Will, such a situation results in an Intestate Estate. The statutes provide different procedures in these cases. Whether an estate is subject to probate or intestate administration proceedings, the Surrogate's Court requires that it be provided with all detailed information regarding a decedent including names and addresses of next of kin ("distributees") and assets.
It may not always be easy to provide complete information as to a person's next of kin. In many instances, where the only surviving relatives are cousins or more distant relations, such persons whereabouts and family connection to the decedent can be hard to find and to prove. Relatives might be scattered throughout many states or countries and they may not have had any contact with the decedent for decades, if at all. These issues are often resolved in Kinship Hearings. These hearings require that the Court be provided with the testimony of disinterested persons and certified records such as birth, death and marriage certificates all of which are needed to demonstrate kinship to the decedent.
The vast majority of Probate cases do not involve Estate Litigation such as Will Contests or persons contesting a Will. However, these types of controversies do arise on occasion and require extensive involvement by New York Probate Lawyers to resolve. In the case of a Will Contest, SCPA Section 1404 provides an aggrieved party the opportunity to examine documents relating to the preparation of the Last Will and to take the testimony of the attorney who drafted the Will and the Attesting Witnesses, even before any formal objections to the Will are filed.
I have represented many clients and helped them with probate New York State procedures. I work closely with my clients in preparing the numerous Court papers, representing them in the probate Court proceedings and completing the probate process.
I graduated in the top 10% of my class at The New England School of Law in Boston and served on the “Law Review.” I was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1979 and admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1982. I was admitted to the United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, and the United States District Court for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. I started my own law practice in New York City in 1985.
For personalized attentive service and a free case evaluation you can contact me by telephone (212) 355-2575, fax (212) 751-5911 or e-mail