In Surrogate’s Court proceedings there are many instances where a party can file Objections. Estate Litigation usually involves matters that are commenced with a Petition. For example, in Probate Cases, the probate process is started by filing a Petition for Probate and Letters Testamentary. Similarly, when a decedent dies without a Last Will, a petition for Letters of Administration is filed to begin the process to administer an intestate estate.
Another example of a Surrogate’s Court petition is one to settle or approve the accounting of an Executor or Administrator. When these various types of petitions are filed with the Court official notice, usually in the form of a Citation, is given to the parties who have an interest in the outcome.
These parties usually have a right to file Objections to the various petitions. Thus, there can be Objections to Probate which lead to a Will Contest. Also, it may be necessary to Object to the matters set forth in an accounting by an Administrator or Executor.
With regard to Accounting Proceedings, and generally all proceedings, Objections must meet certain standards of specificity. While the Court does not require that the Objections at an early stage of a case provide all the details that may be presented at a trial, there must be enough particularity so that the petitioner has a good idea as to the matters that are the subject of the Objections.
It is always preferable to provide a detailed statement in the Objections to avoid having a Court dismiss the case at the outset for failure to state a cause of action or vagueness. The Court can dismiss a case on these grounds even though the Court will tend to give the Objectant the benefit of the doubt.
A recent Manhattan Estate case presents a good example of the failure of by an Objectant to provide proper Objections. In Matter of Estate of Bryer decided by Manhattan Surrogate Nora Anderson on August 12, 2019, an estate beneficiary filed Objections to the accounting of the Executor. After review, the Court dismissed the Objections. It was determined that the Objections did not provide sufficient specificity. Also, the Court noted that some of the matters complained about did not relate to issues in which the Objectant had an interest. Thus, the person had no standing to file Objections.
I have represented many individuals in various matters where Objections have been filed including Contested Wills and Accounting Proceedings. If you have a question concerning an estate or an estate litigation or Objections, call me now for a free review. 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 30 years resolve issues relating to probate and estate settlement throughout New York State including Nassau County and the Bronx. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.