Surrogate’s Courts in New York are known for handling proceedings concerning the estates of a decedent. New York City Probate Lawyers assist their clients with filing cases for the probate of a Last Will. Estate Attorneys also help when there is no Will and a decedent dies intestate. In these matters a proceeding is filed to obtain Letters of Administration.
While probate and administration matters are commonly recognized to be reviewed by the Surrogates, there are many different types of issues and controversies that the Court decides. The general rule is that the Surrogate’s Court has jurisdiction over all matters that can effect a decedent’s estate. The variety of cases is endless. For example, I have represented clients in cases where the Court has been asked to evict occupants of a decedent’s residence. This typically occurs when a family member refuses to vacate the decedent’s property so that the executor or administrator can sell it on behalf of the estate. The Court can direct the occupant to vacate the property and can issue a warrant to the NYC Marshall or Sheriff to effectuate the eviction. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed some of these eviction problems in earlier articles. Continue reading
One of the most important papers that are part of all estate cases is a death certificate. While this statement appears obvious, the presentation of the certificate to the Court and the information contained therein can create roadblocks and issues that need to be overcome. A New York City estate administration lawyer is familiar with the Court requirement that a death certificate must be presented to the Court when a petition is filed seeking to probate a Last Will or to obtain letters of administration.
One problem presented with the need for the certificate is that sometimes there is a delay in obtaining the certificate. Typically, in New York City estates, the local funeral home obtains certified copies of the certificates from the New York City Department of Vital Records. However, this may take some time. Additional issues may arise if the decedent, who may have been a New York resident or domiciliary, dies out of state. I have seen many instances where a person dies out of state. When this occurs, the New York Surrogate’s Court often requires an affidavit explaining the reason for the decedent being out of state and showing that the decedent was a New York domiciliary. Continue reading
When a person dies leaving a Last Will and Testament the Will is typically filed with the Court in the probate process. An essential provision in a Will is naming the persons to be appointed as Executor. The Executor is the person who is responsible for estate settlement such as the collection of assets, the payment of estate debts and expenses and distributing the net estate to the Will beneficiaries.
The provisions of a Will should not only name the Executor, the Will should designate a substitute or successor Executor in the event the primary person nominated cannot act as the fiduciary. It is not uncommon that the primary named Executor needs to be replaced. This can result from a number of reasons such as the primary fiduciary is deceased or ill or refuses to accept the appointment. When the first named Executor does not act as the fiduciary, the Court will appoint the named substitute. Continue reading
Estate Lawyers in New York are familiar with the various statutes that provide executors and administrators with powers to administer an estate. Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) Section 11-1.1 entitled “Fiduciaries’ powers”, sets forth many of the matters that a fiduciary can engage in to facilitate estate settlement. For example, under EPTL 11.1.1, the fiduciary can invest and sell estate property. He can also settle or contest claims either for or against the estate.
The New York Probate Lawyer Blog had posted a number of articles concerning the ability of an executor or administrator to commence proceedings in Surrogate’s Court to obtain the turn-over of estate property from third parties who are withholding the property from the fiduciary. These types of proceedings are governed by Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) Section 2103 (“Proceeding by fiduciary to discover property withheld or obtain information”) and SCPA 2104 (“Inquiry; trial and decree). Continue reading
The settlement of a New York estate requires the identification of the decedent’s distributees (i.e, next of kin). In both probate proceedings and intestate administration proceedings the Court filings require that the names and addresses of all distributees be provided. This mandate allows the Court to identify all persons who are interested in the estate and to make certain that all of these persons have received proper notice of the Court proceedings. For example, in probate proceedings, the distributees may want to contest the Will by filing Objections. Continue reading
The administration of a New York Estate involves many different tasks. The main function of an estate fiduciary such as an executor or administrator is to collect the decedent’s assets and to pay or satisfy various debts and administration expenses. There may be many complicated steps that need to be taken to fully complete or even begin the estate settlement process. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed many of these issues. Continue reading
The administration of a New York Estate requires the resolution of many different types of issues. During his lifetime a decedent may have been involved in activities that resulted in claims or debts that are unresolved at the time of death. For example, a person may have incurred credit card obligations or other credit related debt that is unpaid. In other situations, the decedent may have been an owner of a business or have had business transactions for which he was monetarily responsible.
Also after a person dies the Executor or Administrator has a fiduciary obligation to determine the decedent’s financial obligations and satisfy creditors. Of course, the fiduciary also has a duty to determine to what extent these debt obligations are valid and enforceable. Continue reading
In New York City it is very common that a person may own a cooperative apartment. Essentially, the ownership of a co-op apartment has two aspects. A person is a stockholder of and owns shares in the cooperative corporation. The vested interest in the corporation provides a person with the right to be the lessee in a proprietary lease for his apartment.
As most cooperative apartment dwellers know, the co-op owner is subject to many corporate rules and regulations that are contained in various forms such as the proprietary lease, the corporation’s by-laws and the house rules. Perhaps the most well known rule or restriction regarding these apartments is that the ownership rights cannot be sold or transferred without the express approval of the corporation. The general law in New York provides that cooperative corporations have broad and usually unreviewable discretion to approve or disapprove of a prospective purchaser or transferee. While the corporation cannot engage in discriminatory conduct, it can disapprove a transaction for any reason and generally does not need to disclose the reason for such rejection. Continue reading
Estate Settlement involves dealing with many different types of assets. New York City estate lawyers routinely find that a decedent was the owner of a cooperative apartment. The ownership nature of these apartments is comprised of shares of stock that the decedent owned in a cooperative corporation. As a shareholder of the corporation the decedent would also have been the lessee in a proprietary lease that provided for the decedent to reside in his apartment. A cooperative proprietary lease sets forth the rights and obligations that exist between the shareholder-lessee and the cooperative corporation-lessor. While the decedent was an owner of the shares of stock allocated to his apartment, the lease is really in the nature of creating a landlord-tenant type of relationship. Continue reading
A New York Executor and Administrator each have many fiduciary obligations. Earlier posts in this blog have discussed the need for estate representation to identify and collect the assets of an estate.
Estate Lawyers in New York are often asked by clients to provide guidance regarding real estate interests that are owned by a decedent. Many times the value of the real property that is involved constitutes the largest asset of an estate. Such property can take many different forms. The decedent may have owned a single family home or may be the owner of a multiple unit property which contains residential tenants that were paying rent. There are also situations where commercial property was owned as part of a decedent’s business and is included among his assets. Continue reading