The process of administering an estate in the Surrogate’s Court may involve numerous proceedings. Initially, it may appear that only two main proceedings exist when a person dies. One type of proceeding is called probate. This situation arises when a person leaves a Last Will and Testament. A Will must be admitted to probate in order for its provisions to take effect.
Another type of proceeding is known as administration. This occurs when a person dies intestate – without leaving a Will. In these cases, the decedent’s next of kin are designated in the estate laws to receive a share of the estate.
While these two proceedings dominate what is typically viewed as an estate case, there are numerous other proceedings which may occur in Surrogate’s Court. For example, a person may commence a proceeding to compel a third party to file a Will with the Court. Also, before an estate is settled, there may need to be a kinship proceeding to determine a decedent’s heirs. Kinship cases can take place inside both probate and intestate administration matters. Additionally, an accounting proceeding may be needed to finalize an estate and determine the shares of an estate to be distributed.