Did You Know that Notice Regarding Surrogate’s Court Proceedings Must be Given to All Proper Parties

shutterstock_1403735534-300x200There are many different types of proceedings in the Surrogate’s Court. New York Estate lawyers are involved with probate, administration, accounting and kinship proceedings just to name a few of the most common ones. In each of these matters, the estate laws which are contained in the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) and the Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) require that notice of the proceeding and Court dates must be provided to interested parties. In most cases, interested parties include a decedent’s next of kin which are referred to as distributees. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog had discussed many of these estate proceedings.

For example, when a Last Will and Testament is offered for probate, notice must be given to the decedent’s distributees. This is because these individuals have a right to Object to the Will. In the event the Will is determined to be invalid, then the estate assets are distributed to the distributees pursuant to EPTL 4-1.1 entitled “Descent and distribution of a decedent’s estate.” Such distributions may be more favorable to the distributees than the terms of a Will which might disinherit such persons.

The most common form of notice is a Citation which is served on the interested party and tells them the nature of the case and provides a date, time and location for them to appear in Court to present their objections or position regarding the subject of the matter before the Court. Persons involved with estate litigation and estate controversies are familiar with Citations.

The papers upon which the Court issues a Citation must contain the names and addresses of the interested parties. Sometimes the names or whereabouts of these persons is unknown. Whoever is petitioning the Court for relief must perform a due diligent search for all parties.

There are procedures in the Surrogate’s Court that allow for the Citation to be published in a local newspaper if the information as to a party’s identity or whereabouts is unknown. In this manner the Court can obtain jurisdiction over all individuals involved and provide for the requested relief. A recent Staten Island estate case demonstrates the use of the publication of a Citation. In Matter of Estate of Bucceri, decided by Richmond County Surrogate Matthew Titone on February 20, 2020, the Court was presented with a petition to probate a Will. The Court determined that the Citation that was published provided sufficient notice of the probate proceeding to distributees, whose identity was unknown and whose whereabouts could not be determined, in order to receive actual service.

An experienced estate and trust lawyer can assist with Surrogate’s cases where a Citation must be issued by the Court and when publication of a Citation is needed. Call me now for a free review of your estate case. I have represented clients throughout the New York City metropolitan area in these matters. We provide reasonable and flexible fee arrangements and personal representation.

New York Trusts and Estates Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 40 years resolve issues relating to Guardianship and probate and estate settlement throughout New York City including the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Nassau and Suffolk County. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial free consultation.

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