New York Estate Accounting Proceedings Can Involve the Discovery of Estate Information

The settlement of an estate in New York involves the preparation of an account by the fiduciary. Executors and Administrators need to assemble an account that provides information regarding the transactions that occurred during the administration of the estate.

New York estate lawyers are familiar with the provisions of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (“SCPA”) that relate to accountings. These provisions are contained in Article 22 of the statute. The provisions of the law and the Surrogate’s Court Judges are generally liberal with regard to the right of an estate beneficiary to receive documents and information relating to a fiduciary’s handling of estate affairs.   SCPA Section 2211 provides, in part, that the fiduciary can be examined under oath either before or after objections are filed. This section also allows document discovery to occur during such examination period. As a result, an estate beneficiary can obtain copies of bank statements, brokerage statements, expense receipts and bills, estate tax returns and other papers that can provide information as to whether there are any issues concerning the accuracy or validity of the account. In the event the beneficiary feels that the account is improper he can file Objections with the Court.In a recent case decided by Bronx Surrogate Nelida Malave-Gonzalez on October 2, 2014, the Court was presented with an application by an executor to dismiss Objections that had been filed to the accounting. The case was entitled Estate of Matzinger.   The Surrogate denied the executor’s application and found that the request was premature since the objectants had not been provided a full opportunity to obtain document discovery and examinations before trial.

I have represented many fiduciaries in connection with the preparation of their accounts and responding to Objections that have been filed by beneficiaries. I have also helped beneficiaries of estates where the executors or administrators have not acted properly or breached their fiduciary duties. In these cases I have prepared Objections to be filed with the Court.

Another interesting provision in Article 22 relates to a beneficiary’s right to compel an executor or administrator to file an account with the Court.   SCPA Sections 2205 and 2206 contain the provisions regarding compulsory accounting relief.  The New York Probate Lawyer Blog discussed this proceeding in earlier blogs.  This proceeding is very helpful to beneficiaries  who need to obtain an accounting and estate information when a fiduciary fails to provide these items.  I have filed petitions in the Surrogate’s Courts  for clients to compel a fiduciary to account in many cases.

New York Probate Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years resolve issues relating to Probate, Administration and estate settlement throughout New York City including Brooklyn and Queens. 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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