Search Site

In New York State, the Surrogate’s Court has jurisdiction over probate matters and the administration of a decedent’s estate, whether there is a Will of not.  The judge who presides over probate and administration matters is called the Surrogate.

Probate Administration

One of the primary functions of the Surrogate is to determine the validity of a decedent’s will.  In addition, the Surrogate oversees the actions of the Executor, who is charged with:

  • Filing the Will for probate and in the absence of a Will, an Administration Petition
  • Collecting and distributing assets to beneficiaries
  • Paying taxes
  • Paying debts and expenses
  • Providing an accounting to the beneficiaries, either formally or informally, as circumstances warrant.

The Surrogate’s Court 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 will also advise you in maximizing the value of the estate through post-mortem tax and estate planning.

Probate Litigation

We also represent parties in Surrogate’s Court who litigate to resolve claims related to trusts and estates.  These may include determination of a fiduciary’s duty or whether actions taken by a trustee or 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.  Claims of creditors are sometimes litigated in Surrogate’s Court.

In addition, we represent trustees and beneficiaries in litigation:

  • To resolve disputes over interpretations of provisions of a trust
  • To require timely or proper distributions
  • To rectify alleged breaches of fiduciary duties
  • To determine trustee compensation.
Contact us

Please fill out the form below and one of our attorneys will contact you.

Quick Contact Form