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Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 705: Time, How Reckoned Upon Successive Letters

When someone passes away, his or her estate must be settled and assets transferred to his or her beneficiaries or heirs. The process of administration begins when the executor or estate administrator is issued letters by the New York Surrogate’s Court. Because of this, the issuance of letters is of critical importance and determines the timeline for other events related to probate or estate administration. Because the timing in estate administration is so important, if you have an interest in the administration of an estate, it is critical that you contact an experienced New York probate lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.

Related statutory provisions
  1. Limited and restrictive letters: Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, § 702
  2. Priority among different letters: Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, § 704
  3. When surviving or remaining fiduciary may act;  when successor must be appointed: Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, § 706
Letters and estate administration deadlines

The issuance of letters is important for a variety of reasons. One reason is that it starts the clock running for when other activities related to the administration of an estate must be completed, including when creditors should file claims and the spousal election.

  • Creditors. Under Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 1802. Effect of failure to present a claim, creditors must file claims against the estate within 7 months of when the letters are issued. While failure to do so does not mean that the creditor will lose the right to pursue the debt, it does mean that the executor or administrator cannot be held personally liable for failing to pay the debt and distributing estate assets to beneficiaries or heirs. Because after 7 months the executor may have distributed all or a part of estate assets, the creditor may have a difficult time recovering from the estate, and may have to go after the beneficiaries or heirs. In other words, the likelihood of recovery may significantly diminish.
  • Spousal right of election. In New York a surviving spouse is entitled to an elective share of the deceased spouse’s assets. The elective share is the either $50,000 or 1/3 of the estate—whichever is greater. The spouse’s right of election must be made within 6 months of the issuance of letters.

For details about the timeline and deadlines for activities associated with the administration of an estate, contact a skilled probate lawyer serving New York.

Time, how reckoned upon successive letters

In some administration cases, letters are issued more than once. For example, supplementary letters may be issued after letters testamentary or letters of administration are issued. However, when a deadline is based on the date of the issuance of letters, the time starts to run based on the date of the issuance of the first letters, unless the first letters are revoked. If you are concerned about the filing deadline for a creditor claim, spousal election, or anything else related to the administration of an estate, discuss your concerns with a New York probate lawyer.

Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act § 705. Time, how reckoned upon successive letters

Where it is prescribed by law that an act must or may be done within a specified time after letters are issued and successive or supplementary letters are issued upon the same estate, the time so specified must be reckoned from the issuing of the first letters, except where it is otherwise specially prescribed by law or where the first or any subsequent letters are revoked as provided in 1413.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are an interested party in an administration matter before the New York Surrogate’s Court, it is important to take steps to ensure that your interests are protected. The probate attorneys in New York at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates, have significant experience successfully representing clients in matters related to probate and estate administration, including cases related to the issuance of letters testamentary. If you have concerns related to probate, including questions related to the requirements of New York SPCA section 705, Time, how reckoned upon successive letters, contact one of our attorneys 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, Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County, and Westchester County.

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From the very first phone call to Stephen Bilkis' office, the staff was extremely polite and helpful in assisting me. Mr. Bilkis was honest and upfront with me from the beginning in what he projected the outcome of my case would be; in the end we got better results than either of us anticipated. He was very genuine and compassionate in understanding my situation and how this legal matter could effect not only myself but my family as well. I highly recommend this law firm and will most definitely continue using them for any future legal needs. Jarrett
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