In New York State, the Surrogate’s Court has jurisdiction over probate matters or the administration of a decedent’s estate under a will. The judge who presides over the Probate Court is called the Surrogate.
One of the primary functions of the Surrogate’s Court is to determine the validity of a decedent’s will. In addition, the Court oversees the Executor, who is charged with:
The Surrogate’s Court also ensures equitable distribution of assets and property of individuals who die intestate, or without a will, in accordance with New York State laws.
An individual’s wishes regarding his or her estate should be set forth in a will or in a trust. A trust involves a similar administrative process to a will, but unless contested, is a non-probate document administered without court oversight.
We do everything legally possible to maximize the value of the estate through post-mortem tax and estate planning.
We also represent parties in Surrogate’s Court who litigate to resolve claims by or against the estate, which may include determination of a fiduciary’s duty or whether actions taken under a power of attorney were appropriate. In some cases, family members may wish to contest a will based on undue influence, incapacity or fraud. Likewise, claims of creditors are subject to litigation.
In addition, we represent trustees and beneficiaries in litigation: