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New York Probate Court Lawyer
Probate is the legal process by which a deceased person's assets are distributed according to their wishes or the laws of intestacy. In New York, probate is handled by the Surrogate's Court, which is part of the New York State Unified Court System. The Surrogate's Court has jurisdiction over a variety of matters, including the probate of wills, the administration of estates, and guardianship proceedings. See SCPA § 201. Whether you are an executor, beneficiary, or fiduciary and have a matter before the Surrogate’s Court, contact an experienced New York probate court lawyer at Stephen Bilkis & Associates. With over 20 years of experience representation clients in matters before the Surrogate’s Court, we can help you navigate the process.Jurisdiction of the New York Surrogate's Court
The Surrogate's Court has jurisdiction over a wide range of matters related to the distribution of a decedent's assets. These matters include:
- Probate of wills: The Surrogate's Court has the authority to determine the validity of a decedent's will and to appoint an executor to manage the distribution of the assets.
- Administration of estates: If a person dies without a will, the Surrogate's Court has the authority to appoint an administrator to manage the distribution of the assets.
- Accounting and distribution proceedings: The Surrogate's Court has the authority to review the actions of the executor or administrator and to ensure that the assets are distributed according to the law or the decedent's wishes.
- Guardianship proceedings: The Surrogate's Court has the authority to appoint a guardian for a minor or an incapacitated adult.
- Trust proceedings: The Surrogate's Court has the authority to oversee the administration of trusts.
If you have questions about any estate matter, contact experienced New York probate court lawyer.Procedures in the New York Surrogate's Court
The Surrogate's Court has specific procedures that must be followed in order to initiate a proceeding. The procedures vary depending on the type of proceeding and the circumstances of the case. In general, however, the following steps are involved in a probate or estate administration proceeding:
- Filing of the petition: A petition must be filed with the Surrogate's Court to initiate a proceeding. The petition must include certain information, such as the names of the interested parties, the decedent's date of death, and a description of the assets and debts of the estate.
- Notice to interested parties: Once the petition is filed, notice must be given to the interested parties, such as the heirs, legatees, and beneficiaries.
- Appointment of the executor or administrator: If the decedent had a will, the Surrogate's Court will appoint the executor named in the will. If there is no will, the Surrogate's Court will appoint an administrator to manage the estate.
- Collection and valuation of assets: The executor or administrator is responsible for collecting and valuing the assets of the estate.
- Payment of debts and taxes: The executor or administrator must pay any debts and taxes owed by the estate.
- Distribution of assets: Once the debts and taxes have been paid, the executor or administrator must distribute the remaining assets according to the decedent's wishes or the laws of intestacy.
To learn more about Surrogate’s court procedures, contact an experienced probate court attorney in New York.Key Cases in New York Probate Litigation
The New York Surrogate's Court has issued numerous decisions over the years that have had a significant impact on the field of probate and estate administration. A few notable cases include:
Matter of Gross, 577 N.Y.S.2d 195 (N.Y. App. Div. 1991): In this case, the court considered the validity of a will that had been executed just two days before the testator's death. The testator's sister argued that the will was invalid due to lack of mental capacity and undue influence. The court found that the testator had the requisite mental capacity and that there was no evidence of undue influence.
Matter of Brown, 19 N.Y.S.3d 680 (N.Y. App. Div. 2015): In this case, the court considered the validity of a will that had been executed by a testator who was blind and had a limited ability to communicate. The testator's daughter argued that the will was invalid due to lack of mental capacity and undue influence, but the court found that the testator had the requisite mental capacity and that there was no evidence of undue influence.
Matter of Estate of Sullivan, 851 N.Y.S.2d 366 (N.Y. App. Div. 2008): This case involved a dispute over the distribution of the decedent's estate between the decedent's children and his girlfriend. The court found that the girlfriend was entitled to a portion of the estate under the doctrine of quantum meruit, which allows a person to recover the value of services rendered in the absence of an express contract.Contact Stephen Bilkis & Associates
Probate matters can be complex and emotional, and it is important to have an experienced representation who can guide you through the process. An experienced probate court attorney serving New York can help you understand the legal requirements for executing a will, advise you on the best course of action in a dispute over the distribution of assets, and represent you in court if necessary. Contact us at 800-696-9529 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Manhattan, Long Island, Nassau County, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Suffolk County, Bronx, and Westchester County.