One of the most commonly utilized procedures to assist an estate Executor or Administrator to locate and obtain estate assets are the provisions provided by Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) 2103 and 2104. SCPA 2103 is entitled “Proceeding by fiduciary to discover property withheld or obtain information” and SCPA 2104 is entitled “Inquiry; trial and decree”.
These two statutes when read together provide a two stage method for the discovery and turnover of any assets that are owned by a decedent. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed this issue in a number of prior posts. Continue reading
The identity of a decedent’s heirs at law are an essential element in all probate and intestate administration cases. There have been numerous posts in the New York Probate Lawyer Blog that examine this issue. When a Last Will is offered for probate, the person petitioning for the Will’s admission to probate must provide the Court with the names and addresses of the decedent’s distributees (i.e., next of kin). Distributees require notice of the proceeding because they have a right to object to the Will.
A New York City Estate Attorney typically obtains kinship information from a person when they are preparing an estate plan and Last Will. This information can sometimes be invaluable when preparing the probate papers. It is possible that there are no family members or friends who may have complete family tree information. If the probate petitioner cannot provide the information on distributees a due diligent search must be made for the next of kin. This search may require that services of professional investigators such as genealogists be obtained. Also, the Court may require that a Court Citation be directed to all unknown distributees. The Citation must be published in a local newspaper. Continue reading
There are many different aspects to estate administration that requires consideration. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has pointed out in earlier posts that the estate laws provide certain protections for a decedent’s spouse.
Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) Section 5-1.1-A entitled “Right of election by surviving spouse”, contains provisions which require that a surviving spouse receive a share of a decedent’s estate. This share is referred to as the elective share. The statute provides that the elective share is equal to the greater of $50,000.00 or one-third of the decedent’s net estate. Continue reading
The New York Probate Lawyer Blog in the March 1, 2017 posting discussed some of the aspects involved in a Will Contest in New York. The post referred to a decision by Queens Surrogate Peter Kelly dated February 9, 2017 which dismissed the Objections to the Will and admitted the Will to probate. The decision was in a case called Will of Bellasalmo. One of the Objections to the Will in Bellasalmo was based upon the assertion that the Will was the product of a mistake. The Court pointed out that in order for an Objectant to demonstrate a mistake, it would need to show that the decedent failed to understand the terms of the Will or that the attorney who drafted the Will did not follow the decedent’s instructions. Since the Objectant in Bellasalmo could not provide any evidence in this regard the Objection based upon mistake was dismissed.
It should be pointed out that in a Will Contest case, the Objections that are filed contain a number of different allegations. Typically, the Objections will claim lack of due execution, lack of testamentary capacity and undue influence. Continue reading
Will contests in New York involve many different considerations. To begin with, there is a complex set of statutes and rules regarding the procedure to be followed in these cases. When a Will is filed with the Court for probate, it is necessary to provide notice to all of the decedent’s next of kin regarding the probate proceeding. The next of kin, known as distributees, have a right to Object to the Will. The notice they receive is called a Citation.
Prior to filing Objections to a Will, the distributees have the right to obtain testimony and documents from the attorney who drafted the Will and the attesting witnesses. These steps are provided for by Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) Section 1404 entitled “Witnesses to be examined; proof required”. Continue reading
The preparation and execution of a Last Will is an important part of a person’s estate planning. A Will along with documents such as a Living Will, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney and Living Trust, can all be utilized to express a person’s desires and intentions regarding his property and personal affairs.
Many posts provided by the New York Probate Lawyer Blog discuss the need to expend the time and effort required to prepare and finalize a Will so that it fully provides for estate distribution. New York City Estate Administration attorneys assist clients in reviewing their assets and developing plans that most effectively reflect the client’s wishes. Continue reading
Surrogate’s Courts in New York are known for handling proceedings concerning the estates of a decedent. New York City Probate Lawyers assist their clients with filing cases for the probate of a Last Will. Estate Attorneys also help when there is no Will and a decedent dies intestate. In these matters a proceeding is filed to obtain Letters of Administration.
While probate and administration matters are commonly recognized to be reviewed by the Surrogates, there are many different types of issues and controversies that the Court decides. The general rule is that the Surrogate’s Court has jurisdiction over all matters that can effect a decedent’s estate. The variety of cases is endless. For example, I have represented clients in cases where the Court has been asked to evict occupants of a decedent’s residence. This typically occurs when a family member refuses to vacate the decedent’s property so that the executor or administrator can sell it on behalf of the estate. The Court can direct the occupant to vacate the property and can issue a warrant to the NYC Marshall or Sheriff to effectuate the eviction. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed some of these eviction problems in earlier articles. Continue reading
Guardianship cases in New York are provided for by Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law (“MHL”). Article 81 is entitled “Proceedings for Appointment of a Guardian for Personal Needs or Property Management”. As a New York City Guardianship attorney, I have represented many individuals who have filed petitions for Guardianship appointment.
MHL Section 81.02 essentially requires that unless a person agrees to the appointment, the Court must find by clear and convincing evidence that a person is incapacitated. The person against whom the proceeding is brought is called an alleged incapacitated person (AIP). The AIP is entitled to a hearing before the Court can make its decision regarding the need for a Guardian (MHL 81.11). Continue reading
The fundamental goal of estate settlement is to collect the decedent’s assets, pay all claims and administration expenses and distribute the net estate to beneficiaries. New York estate administration attorneys help their clients accomplish these tasks. Both executors and administrators have fiduciary duties to see to it that the decedent’s affairs are properly handled.
It is not always an easy task to determine the nature of the decedent’s assets. In some cases the decedent’s records may be incomplete or unclear as to asset ownership. Other times, problems may arise due to pre-death transfers of assets or third parties trying to hide the decedent’s ownership for their own benefit. Assets may have been transferred before death to another person by the use of a power of attorney or due to undue influence. Proper estate administration requires that the estate’s interest in these items be thoroughly investigated and Court proceedings be commenced to have third parties turn over estate assets. Continue reading
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. Continue reading