30 Years Experience Representing Clients Like You
An estate fiduciary is charged with gathering estate assets after a death. If an estate fiduciary doesn’t perform this task appropriately, beneficiaries of the estate might claim there was a breach of fiduciary duty. Usually identifying and gathering estate assets is a straightforward process, particularly if a fiduciary understands how to work with a range of financial institutions and is knowledgeable about different kinds of assets. However, there are also situations in which a fiduciary may face difficulties in gathering all of the estate’s assets. There may be different views about the technical ownership of the property at issue, or assets may have been funneled away from the decedent or estate by a third party. In those cases, it may be necessary for the fiduciary to bring a turnover proceeding in order to recover the estate’s property. If you need to institute a turnover proceeding, seasoned New York City estate litigation attorney Jules Haas may be able to help.Turnover Proceedings
When there is a disagreement about who has title to property or there has been a theft of assets, an estate fiduciary may institute a turnover proceeding to get more information and to recover property that belongs to the estate. If someone takes funds or property from a decedent while he’s still living or from an estate after he’s passed, or if you find that a fiduciary stole funds, you may be able to initiate discovery and turnover proceedings to return any assets to the estate that were converted. Sometimes a fiduciary suspects something is amiss, but isn’t certain about whether a third party has estate property, in which case a turnover proceeding may be appropriate. A dedicated estate litigation lawyer can represent you in a legal matter of this nature.
Under Section 2103(1) of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, a fiduciary can petition the court that has jurisdiction over an estate for a discovery proceeding, which may be a precursor to a turnover proceeding. This can be a reasonable step when the fiduciary isn’t entirely certain a particular person has control of the property. The petition for a discovery proceeding should state, either based on knowledge or on information and belief, that personal property that is supposed to be paid to the fiduciary is either in the control or possession of the respondent, or that the respondent has relevant information about the property that would help the petitioner but refuses to provide it. The fiduciary can ask for an inquiry to be held regarding the property, request that the court order the respondent to attend and be examined, and ask that the respondent be ordered to deliver the assets if they are in his control.
Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act section 2104 governs New York turnovers, or what happens if the Surrogate’s Court orders that there are reasonable grounds to examine the respondent and if the petitioner has established title to the property in question. Once an order of reasonable grounds has been returned, regardless of whether the respondent has submitted an answer, the petitioner can examine the respondent with regard to the allegations stated in the petition. As part of this process, the petitioner has the chance to question the respondent about the whereabouts of assets the petitioner thinks should be part of the decedent’s estate.
If a respondent only denies allegations in a petition, but doesn’t claim title to or the right to possess the property at issue, the discovery proceeding can continue as if no answer were filed. The lack of answer is not considered a default. Only after a petitioner establishes entitlement to possession of property at a hearing will the Court enter a decree directing that property be delivered. If the property has been diverted or disposed of, the decree may direct the proceeds or the value of the property to be paid to the estate. Alternatively, it can put the proceeds in trust or make another decision that provides an appropriate form of relief.Skilled Estate Litigation Attorney for New York City Area Residents
Estate litigation lawyer Jules Haas has represented many people in discovery and turnover proceedings. If you are in the New York City area and are concerned about whether you have identified and gathered all assets of an estate, or suspect something is missing, you can consult Mr. Haas to represent you in a turnover proceeding. Mr. Haas possesses more than three decades of experience representing people in New York City estate litigation. He represents people in Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan, Kings, Richmond, Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties. Call us at (212) 355-2575 for a free consultation or contact us through our online form.