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When a person dies there are many issues that can affect the settlement of his estate. Initially, it must be determined wither the decedent had executed a Last Will. If so, then a probate proceeding is to be filed in the Court. In the event the decedent died intestate (without a Last Will), then an Administration proceeding is filed.

Another primary issue that needs to be considered is whether the decedent was a domiciliary of New York. Domicile is defined in the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) Section 103(15) as a person’s principal fixed and permanent home. Domicile is important because generally the New York Courts only have jurisdiction over the estates of a person domiciled in New York at the time of death. A person may have numerous residences but he can only have one domicile. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed this issue in earlier posts. Continue reading

A fiduciary of an estate refers to an Executor or Administrator. The estate fiduciary can be removed if he breaches his fiduciary duty. The Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) contains a number of provisions concerning the circumstances in which a fiduciary can be removed.

SCPA Section 711 entitled “Suspension, modification or revocation of letters or removal for disqualification or misconduct” provides a number of grounds whereby a fiduciary can be removed. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has posted numerous articles regarding the breach of fiduciary duty and the revocation of letters of testamentary or letters of administration. Continue reading

When a person dies without a Last Will, he is considered to have died intestate. The process to appoint a fiduciary for an intestate decedent is known as an Administration Proceeding.   At the conclusion of this type of case the Surrogate’s Court will appoint an Administrator. This is in contrast to the situation when a person dies and leaves a Last Will and the Court appoints an Executor in the Probate proceeding. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has posted many articles about Probate and Administration.

Administration proceedings can have many complex issues. The persons who are entitled to be appointed as an Administrator are set forth in Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) Section 1001. This statute provides a list of the priority for appointment as the estate fiduciary. Continue reading

Estate planning is an important part of overall financial management. The preparation of a Last Will, Living Will, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney and Living Trust can provide a clear expression of a person’s desires regarding property disposition and personal affairs.

Once a Last Will and other documents are prepared and executed, it is important to safeguard them. Such papers can be maintained in a secure filing cabinet or personal safe. Sometimes these papers are held in the office of an attorney or placed into a safe-deposit box. While a safe deposit box may limit or inhibit their accessibility in situations of death or disability, the papers are secure. Nevertheless, alternative methods of storing estate planning papers may be more efficient for having them accessible when needed. Continue reading

One of the primary duties of an estate Executor or Administrator is to collect estate assets. Most of the time this activity is not complicated. For example, a fiduciary may just need to close the decedent’s bank account or brokerage account and deposit the funds into the estate bank account.

Sometimes this process can be more complicated, especially when the decedent’s assets are being withheld by a third party. This claimant may assert that he owns the property and that the decedent has no right to recover it. In other cases, the claimant may deny having the property in his possession. Continue reading

When a person dies without a Last Will and Testament he is said have died intestate. Since there is no Will which provides for distribution of the estate assets, the decedent’s estate is distributed according to the intestacy laws. Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) Section 4-1.1 entitled “Descent and distribution of a decedent’s estate”, provides the list of priority of persons who have a right to inherit the intestate estate. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published many articles concerning the estates of persons who die without a Will.

The fiduciary who is authorized to handle such an estate is known as an Administrator. In order to have an Administrator appointed for an estate, a petition for letters of administration is filed with the Surrogate’s Court. One of the items that must be provided in the petition is the name and address of all of the decedent’s distributees. These are the individuals who have the right to receive a share of the estate. Continue reading

One of the statutes that is most commonly utilized by an estate executor or administrator is Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) Section 2103 entitled “Proceeding by fiduciary to discover property withheld or obtain information.” This provision allows the estate fiduciary to commence a proceeding in the Surrogate’s Court whereby information can be obtained from a third party that is suspected of withholding property belonging to a decedent.

The more common name for this type of matter is a “turnover proceeding”. The third party is being asked to turn over to the fiduciary certain property that the decedent owned. There have been a number of articles concerning this process in the New York Probate Lawyer Blog. Continue reading

There are numerous aspects to the probating of a Last Will in New York. When a person dies and leaves a Will the final disposition of his estate cannot take place until a probate proceeding is completed. Such proceeding involves the filing with the Surrogate’s Court of the original Will along with other papers such as an original death certificate and a probate petition. Typically, the person named as the Executor in the Will files for probate.

Probate essentially means that the Surrogate’s Court approves and validates the Will and the directions for the distribution of the estate contained in the document. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has posted many articles regarding Wills and Probate. Continue reading

Estate Litigation in the Surrogate’s Court often involves issues that effect many decedent’s estates. These problems occur over and over again. One such problem area concerns the attempt to probate a Will where the original document cannot be located.

When a person signs a Last Will great consideration and care should be given to storing the Will in a safe location. Sometimes the Will is maintained at the office of the estate attorney who prepared the Will and supervised its execution. More often, the testator takes the Will home and keeps it with other papers. On occasion, a Will is kept in a safe deposit box at a bank. Problems arise when a person dies and the original Will cannot be located. While a copy of the Will may be available, there are strict rules regarding the probate of a copy. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed this issue in earlier posts. Continue reading

When a person dies without a Last Will he is said to have died intestate. In these types of estates, an application or petition needs to be filed with the Court for the issuance of Letters of Administration.

Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) Section 1001 entitled “Order of priority for granting letters of administration”, lists the persons who have the right to be appointed as the estate administrator. The decedent’s surviving spouse has the initial right of appointment followed by the decedent’s children. Continue reading

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