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A New York Death Certificate Is Important in Estate Cases

One of the most important papers that are part of all estate cases is a death certificate. While this statement appears obvious, the presentation of the certificate to the Court and the information contained therein can create roadblocks and issues that need to be overcome. A New York City estate administration lawyer is familiar with the Court requirement that a death certificate must be presented to the Court when a petition is filed seeking to probate a Last Will or to obtain letters of administration.

One problem presented with the need for the certificate is that sometimes there is a delay in obtaining the certificate.  Typically, in New York City estates, the local funeral home obtains certified copies of the certificates from the New York City Department of Vital Records.  However, this may take some time.   Additional issues may arise if the decedent, who may have been a New York resident or domiciliary, dies out of state.  I have seen many instances where a person dies out of state.  When this occurs, the New York Surrogate’s Court often requires an affidavit explaining the reason for the decedent being out of state and showing that the decedent was a New York domiciliary.

Many other problems can arise regarding a death certificate. Sometimes the information that is contained in the death certificate is incorrect. This can occur due to a simple error when the information about the decedent was being transmitted or transcribed. In other cases, the person providing the information to be placed in the certificate provides incorrect or misleading information. The statements appearing in a death certificate can produce complications later in estate administration. A recent case decided by Staten Island Surrogate Robert Gigante on January 17, 2017 entitled Matter of Leo reflects the complications caused by death certificate data. In Leo the death certificate of the decedent stated that the decedent’s domestic partner was Debra O’Keefe. However, Maureen Leo claimed to be the decedent’s surviving spouse. Maureen applied to the Court to amend the certificate so that Maureen would be named as the decedent’s surviving spouse and thereby be able to collect certain union survivor benefits. Since the decedent’s daughter contested Maureen’s status as the decedent’s surviving spouse, the Court directed that the parties proceed to present their positions regarding Maureen’s actual status to obtain a full determination by the Court.

As you can see from Leo, estate cases involve issues concerning a decedent’s heirs at law which may involve questions as to whether the decedent had a surviving spouse. Call me now for a free review if you have any issues regarding kinship status in an estate or estate settlement problems. I have represented many individuals with regard to solving probate and estate concerns.

An experienced New York trusts and estates lawyer can assist with Probate and Estate Administration proceedings. New York Probate Attorney Jules Martin Haas, Esq. has been representing clients in New York in Trusts and Estates matters and Surrogate’s Court proceedings throughout the past 30 years in Suffolk and Nassau and other counties. If you or someone you know is involved with or has questions about a New York estate matter, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 or email: jules.haas@verizon.net, for an initial consultation.

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