COVID-19 UPDATE: Firm Operations Continue Uninterrupted - Learn More About How We Are Helping Our Clients

How to Obtain Payment as a Beneficiary of an Estate or Trust

shutterstock_599563214-300x200There are numerous situations where a beneficiary of an estate or trust in New York is entitled to receive his distribution.  An estate may be in existence where the decedent left a Last Will and Testament providing for various bequests.  When a decedent dies intestate without a Will, his distributees are entitled to receive their distributive share of the estate.

Another common situation occurs where a person creates a Living or Grantor Trust during life.  Under the terms of the trust, when the grantor dies, the trust principal is directed to be paid to persons named in the trust.

While the above circumstances are not all inclusive, the common factor is that the designated beneficiaries of an estate or trust want to receive their allotted share.  I have been involved in many cases in the New York Surrogate’s Courts concerning this issue.  The New York Probate Lawyer Blog contains numerous posts relating to estate matters.  Here are a few suggestions regarding proceedings to facilitate payment.

In the case of an estate, the executor or administrator must be given a sufficient amount of time to settle the estate.  Assets need to be determined and collected and debts and estate obligations have to be taken care of.  Typically, the Court will allow at least seven (7) months after a fiduciary is appointed before the Court will consider any application to force a distribution.

While each estate situation is different, a common method to move an administrator or executor toward estate settlement is to file with the Surrogate’s Court a petition to compel an accounting.  This proceeding is provided for by Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act Section 2205 entitled “Compulsory account and related relief on a court’s own initiative or on petition; who may petition”.  The Court will issue a direction to the fiduciary to prepare and file an accounting.  This usually forces a fiduciary to move forward toward estate resolution although each estate situation is different.  If the matter is complicated or the fiduciary is still reluctant to provide for a distribution, it may be necessary to be involved in a full formal accounting proceeding before a distribution is made.  However, by filing the compulsory accounting petition, the matter is starting to move forward.

Another problem area concerns distributions from a Living or Grantor Trust.  When a trust beneficiary has not received a share to which they are entitled pursuant to the trust terms, the SCPA can provide relief.  Under SCPA Section 207, entitled “Lifetime trusts; jurisdiction and venue,” a petition can be filed in the Surrogate’s Court to have the trustee make the required distribution.  For purposes of jurisdiction, the statute requires that the trust have assets in New York, or that the grantor be a domiciliary of New York when the proceeding is commenced or the acting trustee must reside in the State.  In these cases the Court will issue a notice to the trustee to appear in Court and answer as to why a trust distribution should not be made.  Again, these types of proceedings may be complicated but can get the ball rolling toward a final distribution.

I have represented many individuals in cases concerning estate or trust distributions and other Surrogate’s Court matters.  Call Me Now for a free confidential review of your estate.  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 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.

Contact Information