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Surrogate Court

The Surrogate Court is a court that deals with matters relating to people who died, as well as guardianships and adoptions.

The Surrogate Court issues Letters Testamentary and Letters of Administration, which appoint a person to be in charge of an estate and lets that person marshall the property of the estate, pay the debts of the estate and distribute the property to the heirs of the person who died.

The court also deals with disputes that arise in the course of estates, such as the validity of a will, the appropriateness of the executor and the financial state of the estate.

Queens County Surrogate's Court

Because the Surrogate Court deals with so many different types of matters, it has various departments dedicated to those matters specifically.

The Probate Department of the Surrogate Court – Surrogate Court handles estate proceedings involving a will. That’s why some people call it “Probate Court.” Most probate proceedings are uncontested – the person who brings in the will (the proponent) submits the will, has their New York estate lawyer fill out the appropriate paperwork and files the original will in the Surrogate Court, together with a petition, original death certificate, funeral bill and accompanying affidavits and notices. The court will set a date for the hearing on the probate of the will, and if no one appears then the court will grant the probate. If someone does appear, then the estate is contested and the examinations of the attesting witnesses and the attorney-draftsman of the will are scheduled and the cases goes on a contested track.Estate Administration – Surrogate Court handles estates where the person who died did not have a will. The person who is the closest relative of the deceased is appointed as the administrator of their estate. If the decedent is survived by a spouse, the spouse is usually appointed as the administrator. If no spouse, then children. And so on.

Cashier – deals with Certificates, Certifications, and Record Searches.

Guardianship – Surrogate Court handles Guardianships. There are two kinds of guardianships – those involving a mentally disabled (special needs) minor (those guardianships are known as 17-a), and guardianships of older adults who have become mentally incompetent due to some sort of illness (this is known as Mental Health Law Article 81 guardianships)

Adoptions  – Surrogate Court also handles adoptions, whether of regular adoptions, step parent and family adoptions and adoptions from foreign countries, involving both infants and older children.

Accountings  – Surrogate’s Court handles accountings filed by executors and administrators of estates and trustees of trusts. Accountings are usually compelled by beneficiaries interested in the trust or an estate, through a Miscellaneous proceeding.

Inventory of Assets – deals with an inventory of assets, which is to be filed no later than 9 months of the date letters issued to fiduciary.

Record Room – Surrogate’s Court records are available on the computers located in the the record room and in the computer. It is not possible to access those records online through the internet.

Miscellaneous Proceedings – Surrogate’s Court Miscellaneous department handles Affidavits of Service and Applications to Open Safe Deposit Boxes and Sealed Apartments. It also handles other proceedings, such determining kinship in an estate that has distant relatives, advice and direction, compel fiduciary to account, compel the production of a will or a trust, proceedings by a fiduciary to discover property, proceeding to remove executor, proceeding to remove administrator, proceeding to remove trustee, proceeding by fiduciary of estate to discover property, etc. Fees for those proceedings can be found here.

Here’s more about Surrogate Courts in the New York metropolitan area and its surrounding areas:

New York

Brooklyn

Queens

The Bronx

Staten Island

Nassau

Suffolk

Westchester

If you need an attorney for Surrogate Court, call Albert Goodwin, Esq., a New York estate, guardianship, wills, trust and probate lawyer with over a decade of experience.

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