Following a person’s death, the settlement of an estate, and any testamentary trusts which may be involved, typically occurs through proceedings in the Surrogate’s Court. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published numerous articles concerning the probate and administration of estates. As can be seen from a review of these publications, the types of estate litigation which can occur appears almost endless.
Just to review a few examples, leading the list as far as common recognition is the Will Contest. In these cases, typically heirs of the decedent who have not received what they believe is appropriate under a Will offered for probate file objections to the Will. These Will Objections usually focus on lack of due execution, undue influence and lack of testamentary capacity. The contest of a Will is a long and complicated process which may take years and outcomes are never certain. If the contestants put forward a viable case, it may very well result in a settlement.
Another very prevalent source of Surrogate’s Court litigation involves determining a decedent’s next of kin. Kinship proceedings appear in both intestate administration matters and probate. Both types of proceedings require that the decedent’s next of kin or distributees be accurately and fully identified and brought into the case to assert their rights. Determining next of kin can be difficult and often requires the services of expert genealogists.