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Did You Know That The New York Surrogate’s Court Only Considers Matters Relating To A Decedent’s Estate?

The New York Court system contains a number of different Courts. For instance, in New York City there is the New York City Civil Court, the Family Court, the State Supreme Court, the Appellate Term and the Appellate Division. Additionally, each County has a separate Surrogate’s Court.

The Surrogate’s Court deals with the issues relating to a decedent’s estate. When a person dies leaving a Last Will and Testament, a probate proceeding is filed in the Surrogate’s Court. If the person dies intestate (without a Will), a petition for Letters of Administration would also be filed in the same Court.

All additional proceedings that may relate to estate matters are also filed in this Court. The jurisdiction of the Court is fairly broad. So various matters concerning kinship determination, Will Contests, Accounting Proceedings, Will construction proceedings and various disputes concerning claims and property interests relating to a decedent are typically determined by the Surrogate.

Because of the specific nature of the Court, there are times when the issues presented do not really relate to an estate but really involve a dispute between living persons. While various interests or matters may start out or have a connection to a decedent’s estate, the controversy no longer have any connection to the estate. There is a difference between Estate Litigation and individual matters.

Most recently a Brooklyn Estate case entitled Estate of Escobar, decided by Brooklyn Surrogate Margarita Lopez Torres on October 8, 2019, was dismissed since it involved a dispute between living persons. In Escobar, real property was devised by a Will to individuals with the right to live at the property for life after which the property was to be sold and the proceeds distributed to two charities. When a dispute as to payment of expenses occurred, proceedings were filed in the Brooklyn Surrogate’s Court to resolve the matter. The Court found that while the issues originally related to the Will which left the property to the parties, the parties now owned and occupied the property and the case was a dispute between living parties having nothing to do with the decedent’s estate.

Litigating matters concerning estate settlement can involve complex issues. I have handled Probate, Administration and other Surrogate’s Court cases throughout New York for over 35 years. Call me now for a free consultation regarding your estate issue. We offer 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 City including the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Nassau County. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.

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