The Surrogate’s Courts in New York are located in the various counties. Thus, there is a Manhattan Surrogate’s Court, a Queens Surrogate’s Court and so on. Typically, the county where a decedent had his domicile (i.e., primary home) will be the location where the estate proceedings are to be filed. For example, if a person had their primary home in Brooklyn, the proceedings concerning estate administration or the probate of a Will is to be in Kings County Surrogate’s Court.
Estate attorneys are familiar with the procedures and issues regarding estate settlement. The Court is accessible to resolve many of the issues relating to a decedent. Controversies arise in estate litigation concerning the decedent’s interests in business such as small corporations, partnerships and limited liability companies. The Surrogate generally is the judge who can resolve these disputes since their outcome relates to and affects the decedent’s estate. Additionally, a person may die and be subject to various claims of creditors. The Court can resolve controversies regarding these claims in the estate accounting proceeding or in separate proceedings. Article 18 of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (“SCPA”) is entitled “Claims; Payment of Debts and Funeral Expenses.” The sections in Article 18 deal with the presentation and determination of the validity of claims against a decedent.
An estate lawyer who represents an Executor or Administrator is familiar with the various sections of the SCPA and the Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (“EPTL”). I have represented many estate fiduciaries with regard to estate settlement and the resolution of claims against the deceased person’s interests.
While the Court has broad control over matters concerning a decedent, it sometimes finds that the issues presented are outside of its jurisdiction. Recently, in Estate of Virginia Camps, decided by Bronx Surrogate Nelida Malave-Gonzalez on March 19, 2014, the Court determined that a dispute regarding the ownership of real estate was between living parties and outside of the Court’s purview. The Court reached this conclusion based upon the decedent’s Will which specifically devised real estate interests and the Court recognized that such interests vested in the named beneficiaries immediately upon the decedent’s death.
Estate administration issues are typically complex and the counsel of an experienced estate professional can be greatly beneficial to resolving these matters properly and expeditiously.
New York Trusts and Estates attorney Jules Martin Haas, Esq. has been representing clients in Surrogate’s Court and estate administration in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn throughout the past 30 years. If you or someone you know is involved with or has questions about Estate Settlement, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.
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