and Your Family
Brooklyn Probate Court
Probate court is a special court that has jurisdiction over issues related to the estates of deceased individuals. In New York the probate court is called the Surrogate’s Court. When someone passes away, the management of that person’s estate and the winding up of his (or her) affairs is overseen by a Surrogate’s Court judge. If the decedent passed away testate, meaning that the person left a will, the process is referred to as probate. If the person passed away intestate, meaning without a will, then the process is call estate administration. There are two primary goals that the Surrogate’s Court has an interest in during estate administration. First, the Surrogate’s Court wants to make sure that creditors of the decedent’s are paid. Second, the Surrogate’s Court wants to make sure that the decedent’s assets are distributed to the appropriate individuals. To learn more about the Surrogate’s Court role in the administration of your loved one’s estate, contact an experienced Brooklyn probate court lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.Estate administration
- Probate petition. The estate administration process begins when someone files a petition along with the death certificate with the Surrogate’s Court. If the person was testate, the executor is typically the person who files the petition to open probate along with the will. If the person is intestate, the petition for estate administration. Anyone who would like to be appointed estate administrator must filed a petition with the court requested appointment. The administration process will begin when the court admits the will to probate and issues Letters Testamentary formally appointing the executor. In the absence of a will, the court will issue Letters formally appointing an estate administrator. Letters are a court document that is proof that the person holding them has the legal authority to act on behalf of the estate. For example, with Letters, an executor can access the decedent’s bank account, and can open a bank account on behalf of the estate. As a Brooklyn probate court lawyer will explain, the court will only issue Letters to a person who meets the qualifications to perform the duties of an estate administrator.
- Marshalling estate assets. The two main responsibilities of the administrator are to pay creditors and distribute estate assets. The administrator cannot do either of these jobs until he (or she) has an accurate understanding of the assets that are part of the estate and the value of those assets. Thus, the administrator must locate the assets, inventorying them, appraise them, and secure them. It is also up to the administrator to manage the assets until they are distributed. For example, if an estate asset is a house, the administrator must continue to pay bills associate with it such utilities and property insurance, and must secure to protect it from intruders.
- Pay creditors. Contrary to what many believe, a decedent’s debts do not die with him (or her). The debts that the decedent had at the time of his death must be paid, and the administrator has the duty to pay all valid claims that are timely filed. Creditors must submit claims within 7 months of when the Surrogate’s Court issues Letters. The administrator is allowed to proceed with distributing assets after the 7 month period. While a creditor is not barred from filing a claim after the 7 month period, the estate administrator will not be liable if the claim is the paid. It may also be more difficult for the creditor to collect since estates may have gone to the beneficiaries or heirs. Thus, as a probate court attorney in Brooklyn will explain, it is critical that creditors file claims on time, and they that they file them properly.
- Asset distribution. Once timely filed and valid estate debts are paid, the administrator has the duty to distribute estate assets to beneficiaries are heirs. If the case of a testate decedent, the executor will look at the terms of the will to determine how to distribute assets. In the absence of a will, the estate administrator must look to the law of intestate succession to determine who gets the decedent’s property. Under the law, an intestate decedent’s property will go to his (or her) legal heirs. A decedent’s legal heirs are his surviving spouse and children. In the absence of either, the statute has an order for priority for who is considered “next of kin” and entitled to inherit. Next of kin may include grandchildren, parents, brothers and sisters, grandparents, or aunts and uncles. In order to ensure that your property goes to the individuals of your choosing, it is important to write a will and execute it according to the requirements of New York Estates, Powers, and Trusts Law.
In addition to overseeing the settling of estates of decedent’s individuals, the probate court n New York also has jurisdiction over proceedings related to trusts and other matters related to a decedent’s estate. In order to ensure that your interests are protected during any proceeding in the New York Surrogate’s Court, it is important that you are represented by a probate court attorney serving Brooklyn with experience. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience representing administrators and other parties in matters before the New York Surrogate’s Court. We have the knowledge, resources, and experience to help. Contact us at 800-696-9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Brooklyn, Bronx, Staten Island, Queens, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Suffolk County, and Westchester County.