Important Information Regarding New York Probate Cases

The Probate of a New York Last Will and Testament involves many issues.  Procedures provided by the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) as well as statues comprising the Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) provide the basic rules regarding probate.

For example, EPTL section 3-2.1 titled “Execution and attestation of wills; formal requirements”, sets out the primary rules for the execution of a Will.  New York Estate Lawyers are familiar with this statute.  The law mandates that a Will be in writing and signed at the end of the document and that there needs to be two attesting witnesses.

In many instances, Objectants may file a Will Contest and assert that a Will was not properly executed.  The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed Contested Wills in many articles.  As noted in the Probate Blog, other grounds for Objections include undue influence, lack of testamentary capacity and duress.  When Objections are filed with the Surrogate’s Court, estate litigation can be lengthy and complicated.

There are many Will cases where the document offered for probate may seem to lack the fundamental requirements to allow it to be admitted to probate.  However, when a probate petition is filed with the Surrogate’s Court, the Court is obligated to fully review the validity of the document before it is summarily cast aside.

A Suffolk estate case recently involved a petition to probate a purported Last Will that appeared deficient in a number of respects.  In Estate of Sardo, Suffolk Surrogate John Czygier Jr. reviewed a motion to dismiss a paper which was only three pages long and was undated, it did not name an executor, and it did not have an attestation clause or the addresses of the attesting witnesses.

Notwithstanding these circumstances, the Court refused to dismiss the probate proceeding before the filing of Objections because, on its face, the Will was allegedly signed by the decedent and had two witnesses.  Therefore, the Court found the petitioner presented a basic claim for probate of a purported Last Will.

Will Contests and probate proceedings can be very complicated.  The assistance of experienced legal counsel can be indispensible.  I have represented many clients in Will Contests and Probate cases throughout New York.  Call me now for a free review of your issue.  We provide reasonable and flexible free arrangements.

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 Queens 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.

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