Wills and Probate
If you die without a will, State law provides a default will. Typically your spouse and children will take the property. If there is no spouse and no children, your parents may take the property, followed by any siblings, grandparents, and descendents of the grandparents. If no relations can be found, the property will eventually belong to the state. While this is orderly, it may be not what you wish or be in the best interest of those you love. When a person dies without a Last Will he is deemed to have died intestate. Instead of a probate proceeding where a Will is filed and processed for validity, the Surrogate's Court proceeding is entitled Administration. In the case of a Will a testator can choose the person who will act as Executor. In an Administration Proceeding, the New York Statutes determine who can be appointed as the estate Administrator. Estates, Powers and Trusts Law Section 1001 provides the order of priority of a decedent's heirs at law for appointment. When there is no Will naming an Executor, a person whom the decedent did not want as an estate beneficiary or estate representative may very well be appointed as Administrator and inherit the estate assets. The appointment of an Administrator may require that the person appointed obtain a bond. A bond is essentially an insurance policy issued by a surety company which insures that the Administrator does not mishandle the estate funds. The surety companies usually require that the person receiving the bond has a good credit rating. If the closest relative entitled to the appointment as Administrator does not have a good rating, they may not be able to be appointed as the fiduciary since they cannot qualify for the bond.
Sometimes it is very difficult to determine a decedent's distributees ("heirs at law") after death, particularly where the closest relatives are cousins. It may be necessary for the estate to be administered by a governmental official called a Public Administrator. Also, the distributees may need to prove their inheritance rights through a Kinship Hearing. A hearing on kinship requires the presentation of proof in the form of documents such as birth and death records and census reports that can demonstrate that the persons' claiming as the heirs are the only possible recipients. This type of proof may be difficult to obtain especially if the records needed are decades old and possibly located in other states or counties.
Wills and probate proceedings are typically handled in the New York Surrogate's Courts. I have over 25 years of experience working on Wills and probate proceedings. I advise clients in the planing and creation of their Wills. I work to make sure that the probate and administration process proceeds smoothly and efficiently. I represent clients in matters concerning Wills and probate and intestate administration throughout New York. I help my clients file Court papers and administer the decedent's estate by providing full estate settlement services.
I was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1979 and admitted to the Supreme Court of the United States in 1982 after graduating in the top 10% of my class at The New England School of Law in Boston. 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.
To get in touch with me by phone, call (212) 355-2575. You can also e-mail