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Brooklyn Probate Lawyer

Brooklyn Probate lawyer

A Brooklyn probate lawyer helps administrators and executors close-out and settle Brooklyn estates. A probate lawyer’s knowledge of the court system allows them to close and settle matters in the probate court without unneeded expenses and delays. Here are some of the things that a probate lawyer does:

  • A Brooklyn probate lawyer helps the executor or administrator of a Brooklyn estate fill out the petition for probate. The petition for probate is the primary document that commences the probate process. The petition includes all of the information about the person who died, the information about the person who would like to become the administrator or executor, information about the people who benefit from the will and the information about the closest living relatives of the person who died (the closest living relatives of the person who died are often the beneficiaries of their will, but not always.)
  • A probate lawyer obtains all the supporting documents. The petition for probate is not the only document that the probate lawyer submits to the court. The petition also needs supporting documents. Those documents include the death certificate, copy of a funeral bill and various affidavits proving the relationship to the person who died. The documents may also include death and birth certificates of the various people involved, notices to tax authorities, affidavits of heirship, Citations, Notices of Probate, and various other documents.
  • A probate lawyer submits the petition and the supporting documents to the probate court. Your probate lawyer will submit all of the documents that are needed to the probate court and then follows up with the probate court to make sure that the documents are sufficient and no more documents are required, and that the court accepts the documents that are submitted.
  • A probate lawyer attends court hearings. There can be one or more court hearings on a probate case, and the probate lawyer attends all of them, to represent his client before the court.
  • A probate lawyer follows through to make sure that your goal is accomplished. Whether you are the person who wishes to be appointed the executor or administrator of the estate, or you are trying to prevent someone from being appointed, or you are just trying to monitor what is happening in the estate of which you are a beneficiary, a probate lawyer is there to represent your best interest and make sure that your goals are met.
  • A probate lawyer can help you locate assets. Some estates have easy to locate assets, and some assets are harder to find. Although probate lawyers sometimes need assistance from private investigators, there are still ways for a probate lawyer to help their client find assets. This is done by advising clients for the best strategies to locate assets, such as advising the client where to look. A powerful tool that we have to locate assets is subpoenas to the financial institutions that may hold the assets. To locate which institutions make the most sense to look, we ask the client where the person who died liked to bank, look at the map of the area and locate the financial institutions that are close to the address where the person lived, and we subpoena the most common financial institutions such as Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Fidelity, U.S. Bank, Capital One, Bank of America, PNC Bank and TD Bank.
  • A probate lawyer can help you value assets. Some assets have straightforward value, and some are hard to valuate. A probate lawyer can argue your preferred value to the beneficiaries, IRS and the court.
  • A probate lawyer will deal with disagreements. In the course of a probate proceeding, agreements can arise. The most common disputes are a will contest or a contested accounting. A will contest involves someone challenging a validity of the will, usually saying that the person who made the will did not have the mental capacity or was unduly influenced to benefit a particular person. A contested accounting involves a beneficiary claiming that an executor is stealing from the estate or mismanaging it. A probate lawyer can help you prevail in those disagreements or come to a successful compromise?
  • A probate lawyer will draft and submit an estate accounting and defend the estate accounting before the court.
  • And finally, a probate lawyer can conduct a trial before the judge or the jury, making sure that you have the best possible chance of prevailing. If your estate has disagreements, seek the services of a probate lawyer with a proven track record of results. This is crucial for your best chance of getting the inheritance that you are entitled to.

A Brooklyn probate lawyer is someone who can help you accomplish the following in Brooklyn:

  • have the court appoint you as the personal representative (executor or administrator)
  • marshal the assets of the estate
  • pay the claims
  • resolve any disagreements and
  • distribute the assets to the right heirs and in the right amount

Whether you are an executor, administrator, beneficiary or creditor of an estate, winding up a Brooklyn estate involves many things. A Brooklyn probate lawyer understands the local probate timelines and can facilitate the process for you by handling the following aspects of the probate of your estate:

  • Determination of whether there is a will
  • Reading of the will (not a requirement, but sometimes done)
  • Obtaining the death certificate
  • Filing the probate petition in the Surrogate’s court
  • Obtaining the Letters Testamentary
  • Compiling an inventory of the estate assets, list of creditors and obtaining personal and real property appraisals
  • Assisting with the selling of assets, payment to creditors and distribution of assets to beneficiaries
  • Helping resolve disputes amongst heirs or beneficiaries that may arise
  • Winding up and closing of the estate

Since every estate involves different matters and unexpected situations may arise that family members are not prepared to deal with at such a delicate and emotional time of their lives, having an experienced Brooklyn probate lawyer with the knowledge of how courts here work can handle your estate in a way that is more efficient, less stressful and save you time and money, especially on estates where there are substantial assets involved requiring the sale of real estate in one or more states, stocks, bonds, and other personal property, distributions to charities and beneficiaries, including children from previous marriages and current and ex-spouses.

Brooklyn probate process has many components. If you are the person in charge of the estate and are going to be probating a will here’s roughly what the process would look like:

  • you get appointed by the court to be in charge of the estate
  • locate estate property
  • pay the decedent’s debts and taxes
  • resolve any disagreements
  • and finally, distribute the remainder of the property to the heirs

Those probate process steps can vary and they can overlap. To be successful, you’d have to complete each one of those steps carefully. You would greatly benefit from having a probate lawyer represent your throughout the process.

The probate process can be challenging to navigate. It is filled with technicalities, deadlines, traps for the unwary and red tape. A probate lawyer can help you navigate the process, whether someone died without a will or you are probating a will.

Since estate matters are complex and most people do not understand them and they are not trained to resolve probate issues on their own, the services of an experienced probate lawyer is usually required. An attorney who is experienced in handling probate matters, is knowledgeable about state and federal tax and inheritance laws will be able to assist you with resolving your probate and estate matters in a relatively timely and efficient manner.

If you wish to hire a Brooklyn probate lawyer, you can call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (718) 509-9774 and make an appointment to discuss your probate proceeding.

Brooklyn Estate Attorney Albert Goodwin

Brooklyn estate attorney
A Brooklyn estate attorney is involved in determining what happens with a person’s property after they die in Brooklyn. In places like Brooklyn, where estate planning can make an impact on who gets your property after your death, estate attorneys get involved way before a person dies, sometimes decades before. A Brooklyn estate attorney can perform a variety of functions, depending on the stage of the estate process, whom the attorney represents, what legal documents are involved and what the relationship between the person who died and their family and friends is.

Estate Planning. A Brooklyn estate attorney writes up the documents that determine what happens to a person’s property after their death. An estate planning attorney’s function is to set up what is referred to as an estate planning package, which may include a will, a trust, a power of attorney, what we refer to in Brooklyn as a health care proxy, and a living will. They would talk to the client and see what they want to happen to their estate after their death, and will then draft the appropriate documents and make sure that the person making the plan signs the estate planning documents correctly, all the formalities required for the documents are followed, and all of the documents that need to be filed are filed in the appropriate government agency.

Probate of an Estate. A Brooklyn estate attorney represents the people involved in the probate process, which is a court proceeding to determine if a deceased person’s will is valid. Most probate proceedings are uncontested, meaning that the estate attorney would simply submit an application to admit the will to probate and notify everyone involved, the judge would review the petition and the will gets admitted to probate, meaning that the executor nominated by the will gets appointed to be the executor. The estate attorney would then make sure that the executor performs their job correctly.

Administration of an Estate. If an estate attorney was not involved until a person died, and the person died without a will, the court proceeding where it gets decided what happens to their assets after their death is called “estate administration.” The Brooklyn estate attorney would help the relatives of the person who died become the administrator of the estate. He would fill out the appropriate documents and submit the documents to the court. After the relative gets appointed as the estate administrator, the estate attorney would make sure that the administrator carries out their duties in accordance with the law.

Contesting a Will. When someone is left out of a will, a Brooklyn estate attorney would help that person contest a will. He would try to prove to the court that the person who died either did not have the mental capacity to make a will, was unduly influenced into making a will, or the will was not made correctly. A different estate attorney would represent the person who filed the will with the court – defending the will and trying to prove that the will has no defects that would render it invalid.

Contested Accounting. When a beneficiary of an estate suspects that the executor is mismanaging assets of the estate or stole something from the estate, even before the death of the decedent, an estate attorney would help the beneficiary file a petition for an accounting. A different Brooklyn estate attorney, representing the executor of the estate, will help the executor prepare an accounting of the estate, which is a statement of the assets that are in the estate and the expenses that the estate incurred. The estate attorney for the beneficiaries can then object to the accounting and ask the court to make the executor return money that they allegedly took from the estate improperly.

The Judge of the Surrogate’s Court is also a Brooklyn estate attorney, since they are an attorney who is dealing with estates on a professional basis. The same holds true for many other staff of the Surrogate’s Court, including court attorneys and clerks.

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Albert Goodwin, Esq., a Brooklyn estate, guardianship, wills, trust, medicaid and probate attorney with over a decade of experience. He can be reached at (212) 233-1233 or (718) 509-9774.

Surrogate Court Brooklyn

Address

2 Johnson Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Main Phone: 347-404-9700
Fax: 212-520-6850

 Surrogate Court Brooklyn

Surrogate Court Brooklyn Phone Number Directory

Department Phone Number
Miscellaneous 347-404-9680
Accounting 347-404-9700
Guardianship 347-404-9733
Probate 347-404-9670
Administration/Small Estates 347-404-9690
Adoption 347-404-9700

Directions

Enter your starting address:

 

Subway Directions: 2, 3, 4 or 5 trains to Borough Hall; A, C or F trains to Jay Street/Borough Hall; R train to Court Street.

Hours of Work

Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

(Clerks of the court can leave early at the end of the day and can be on a break during lunchtime. Also, trying to file things at the end of the day is not a good idea, especially on a Friday.)

The court is closed on all state holidays.

Courtroom

The courtroom number is Room 319.

Judges of the Surrogate Court Brooklyn

Surrogate Court Brooklyn Judge Lopez Torres

Hon. Margarita Lopez Torres. Hon. Lopez Torres has been the Surrogate Court Brooklyn judge since the year 2006. She has a history fo serving the people of New York, first as a teacher, then working for Legal Services, as legal counsel for the City of New York, and as a Civil Court Judge. Judge Lopez Torres is a no-nonsense judge who is very serious about the cases before her.

Hon. Harriet Thompson. Judge Thompson’s term began on January 1, 2019. She has previously served the people of Brooklyn as a Civil Court judge. Judge Thompson maintains that everybody has their approach to being a justice and hers is to look at every case with an open mind and apply the law in a fair way.

The judges have a staff of clerks who help them analyze cases and conduct pre-trial, scheduling, and settlement conferences.

Chief Clerk
Doreen A. Quinn

Ms. Quinn shines during the Surrogate Court Brooklyn calendar call. She does the scheduling and logistics. She helps the court and attorneys get through the calendar and get things done.

Surrogate Court Brooklyn is located on the second floor of the courthouse building. It’s called the third floor, but it’s the second floor in my opinion.

Surrogate Court Brooklyn Departments

Surrogate Court Brooklyn deals through its various departments with the following matters:

Brooklyn Probate – Surrogate Court Brooklyn handles estate proceedings involving a will. That’s why some people call it “Brooklyn Probate Court.” Most probate proceedings are uncontested – the person who brings in the will (the proponent) submits the will, has their Brooklyn estate lawyer fill out the appropriate paperwork and files the original will in the Brooklyn Surrogate’s 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 go on a contested track.

Brooklyn Estate Administration – Kings County 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.

Brooklyn Guardianship – Surrogate Court Brooklyn 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 illness (this is known as Mental Health Law Article 81 guardianships)

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

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

You can request information about an estate from the Surrogate Court in Brooklyn by writing them a letter with the correct legal name of the person who died, and include a check for $30 made out to the appropriate County Surrogate’s Court, and either a return stamped envelope or your email address to receive the information.

Brooklyn Accountings – Surrogate Court Brooklyn 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.

Brooklyn Miscellaneous Proceedings – Surrogate Court Brooklyn Miscellaneous department handles Affidavits of Service and Applications to Open Safe Deposit Boxes and Sealed Apartments. The Miscellaneous Department 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 Brooklyn 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.

If you need an attorney for Surrogate Court Brooklyn, call Albert Goodwin, Esq., a New York estate, guardianship, wills, trust, and probate lawyer with over a decade of experience. You can call Albert Goodwin, Esq. at (212) 233-1233.

Brooklyn Surrogate’s Court Fees

Brooklyn Surrogate’s Court Fees are stated in the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act, § 2402. Here is the list of fees by procedure, for easy reference:

7. The fee schedule for subdivision 1 through 7 inclusive is as follows:

Value of Estate or Subject Matter Fee Rate
Less than $ 10,000 $ 45.00
10,000 but under 20,000 75.00
20,000 but under 50,000 215.00
50,000 but under 100,000 280.00
100,000 but under 250,000 420.00
250,000 but under 500,000 625.00
500,000 and over 1,250.00

8. (a) For filing a petition to commence the following proceedings, the fee shall be as indicated:

SCPA Fee Rate
607 To punish respondent for contempt $ 30.00
711 Suspend, modify, revoke letters or remove a fiduciary other than a custodian or guardian 75.00
711 Suspend, modify, revoke letters or remove a custodian or guardian 30.00
715 Application of fiduciary to resign 30.00
717 Suspend powers-fiduciary in war 0.00
1401 Compel production of will 20.00
1420 Construction of will 75.00
1421 Determination of right of election 75.00
1502 Appointment of trustee 45.00
1508 Release against state 50.00
1703 Appointment of guardian 20.00
2003 Open safe deposit box 20.00
2102 Proceedings against a fiduciary 20.00
2103 Proceedings by fiduciary to discover property 75.00
2107 Advice and directions 75.00
2108 Continue business 45.00
2114 Review corporate trustee compensation 10.00
2205 Petition to compel fiduciary to account 30.00
EPTL 7-4.6 Appointment of successor custodian 20.00

(b) For filing a petition to commence a proceeding for the appointment of a trustee of a lifetime trust or for the appointment of a conservator, the fee shall be the same as that which is payable in the supreme court pursuant to section eight thousand eighteen of the civil practice law and rules.

9. For filing:

(i) a demand for trial by jury in any proceeding, SCPA 502 $ 150.00
(ii) objections to the probate of a will SCPA 1410 150.00
(iii) a note of issue in any proceeding 45.00
(iv) objection or answer in any action or proceeding other than probate 75.00
(v) a will for safekeeping pursuant to section 2507 of this act except that the court in any county may reduce or dispense with such fee 45.00
(vi) a bond, including any additional bond:
less than $ 10,000 20.00$
10,000 and over 30.00

10.

For furnishing a transcript of a decree $20.00

11.

For a certificate of letters evidencing that the appointment of a fiduciary is still in full force and effect: $ 6.00

12.

(a) For making and certifying or comparing and certifying a copy of a will or any paper on file or recorded in his office: $ 6.00 pg.
(b) Authenticating the same, additional: $ 20.00

13.

For searching and certifying to any record
for which search is made:
$ 30.00 for under 25 years$ 90.00 for over 25 years

14.

(a) For producing papers, documents, books of record on
file in his office under a subpoena duces tecum,
for use within the county where the office
of the court is situated:
$ 30.00
(b) for use in any other county, such fee to be paid for
each day or part thereof that the messenger is
detailed from the office and to be in addition
to mileage fee and the necessary expenses of the
messenger. The clerk
of the court shall not be
required to make any collection or return of
the money so paid for expenses:
$ .30

15. For recording:

(a) any instrument, decree or other
paper which is required by law
to be recorded:
$ 8.00 per pg. or part $ 16.00 minimum
(b) for filing an authenticated copy of
a foreign will:
$ 8.00 per pg. $ 64.00 minimum
(c) for taxing bill of costs: 15.00

The table above contains Brooklyn Surrogate’s Court fees. If you need representation in a Brooklyn estate proceeding, contact the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.

Brooklyn Probate Process

How Does Brooklyn Probate Process Work

Brooklyn probate process has many components. If you are the person in charge of the estate and are going to be probating a will or doing probate without a will in Brooklyn, here’s roughly what the process would look like:

  • you get appointed by the court to be in charge of the estate
  • you locate estate property
  • pay the decedent’s debts and taxes
  • resolve any disagreements
  • and finally distribute the remainder of the property to the heirs

Those Brooklyn probate process steps can vary and they can overlap. To be successful, you’d have to to carefully complete each one of those steps. You would greatly benefit from having a lawyer represent your throughout the process.

Become the Personal Representative

You cannot collect and distribute the inheritance until you are appointed by the court to be in charge of the estate. Once appointed, you are called the “personal representative.”

Remember, just because you are nominated as the executor by the will or are the closest of kin does not automatically make you a personal representative. Probating a will in Brooklyn means applying to the Surrogate’s Court of the county where the deceased person resided and have the court approve that application. Same with probate in Brooklyn without a will. That’s Brooklyn probate procedure. Once the court approves your application, the court will issue you an official certificate from the State of Brooklyn, which gives you an official capacity to act on behalf of the estate.

As part of Brooklyn probate process, you can apply to become the personal representative if you are the executor nominated by the will. If there is no will, you can apply to be in charge of the estate if you are the closest relative who has the preference.

In Brooklyn, a personal representative is called “an executor” if there is a will and “an administrator” if there is no will. That’s just the terminology in Brooklyn probate procedure. In reality, there is little functional difference between “executor” and “administrator.”

Locate the Assets of the Estate

Once the court appoints you as the personal representative of an estate, you will need to figure out what assets the estate consists of. Most decedents do not leave behind a complete and updated list of their assets, so you’ll have to do some hunting and legwork.

The decedent’s place of residence is the best place to find documents showing what the decedent owned. Review the decedent’s financial statements, deeds, titles, stock certificates, bond certificates, and any contracts or financial documents.

Tax returns are very useful for finding assets.

If you find the contact information of the decedent’s financial advisors, accountants and attorneys, great! Get in touch with them. Use your authority as a personal representative to have those professionals supply you with information about the decedent’s assets.

As part of Brooklyn probate process, you should review the decedent’s financial statements for signs of assets that you could have missed. Financial statements can contain transfers to bank accounts or payment of expenses for properties. Make a list of those bank accounts and properties and follow up on them.

File an Inventory of the Estate With the Court

As part of Brooklyn probate process and probating a will in Brooklyn, you need to file an inventory of the estate within six month of being appointed as the personal representative (Form 207.20). It’s a legal form that any estate attorney has. The inventory’s main feature is a list of the assets that you were able to find. This is an important part of Brooklyn probate process.

Keep Paying Mortgages and Utilities

You will need to inform the bank that the owner died and have the bank reflect on the account that the mortgage will be paid by the estate. You will also have to keep paying the utility bills.

Taxes

Most estates are not large enough to trigger an estate tax liability. However, if the estate is more than $1 million, it is best to consult with an estate attorney to find out if there are any estate tax forms that you need to fill out. For some estates, you would need to fill out tax forms even if no estate tax is due.

It is possible that the decedent had past tax debt, such as Federal or State income tax. If you find out that the decedent owed back taxes, you would have to pay the back taxes from the estate.

Paying the Decedent’s Debts

In the process of locating the assets of the estate, you may have also located the debts. If anything, debts are usually easier to locate than assets! You and the beneficiaries of the estate are not personally responsible for the decedent’s debts. But it is your responsibility as the personal representative to pay those debts out of the estate.

The decedent’s debts may include attorneys’ fees for work done on the estate, credit card bills, medical bills, utility bill, etc. Do not ignore those debts and do not distribute the assets to beneficiaries instead of paying creditors. You do not want to give the creditors the right to go after you personally.

In addition to debts that you have discovered, there may be other debts that you were not able to see. You may see creditors making claims in an estate. If that happens, you have the option of paying the claim or denying the claim and forcing the creditors to prove that the claim is valid. Creditors have seven months to submit claims. If they miss that deadline, their claims become null and void. As part of Brooklyn probate process, you should take creditors seriously.

Calculating Your Commissions

As a personal representative, you are entitled to commissions as part of Brooklyn probate process, at the following percentages:

• 5% of all sums of money not exceeding $100,000
• 4% of all sums not exceeding $200,000
• 3% of all sums not exceeding $700,000
• 2.5% of all sums not exceeding $4,000,000
• 2% of all sums not exceeding $5,000,000

Ask your estate lawyer for what is included in the base amount used to calculate the commissions. You can disburse those commissions to yourself before distributing assets.

Getting a Release from Beneficiaries

One of the most important aspects of Brooklyn probate process is to get a consent and release from the beneficiaries to have it in writing that they are satisfied with what they are receiving form the estate and to make sure that they do not have the ability to sue you right after they get their distribution.

Distributing the Assets

This is the part of Brooklyn probate process that everyone has been looking forward to! You have payed all the debts of the estate, filed your inventory in six months, waited until seven months are up after you are appointed, payed any taxes due and did everything else you had to do as an executor. You are almost ready to distribute the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries. But before you do so, make sure that you prepare an informal accounting and have the beneficiaries sign waivers and releases prepared by your estate attorney. You want them to agree in writing not to sue you after receiving the distributions. You do not want to have a beneficiary receive money from the estate and then use that money to get their own estate lawyer and sue you.

You can distribute assets “in kind” or as money. If you have doubts as to how you should distribute your assets, you need to work with your attorney, the beneficiaries and their attorneys to figure it out. Make sure that everyone is on the same page and there are no disagreements.

Always have all agreements in writing, do not take anyone at their word alone. The best way to do this is to have your estate attorney prepare an “informal accounting” which outlines the proposed distribution and have all of the beneficiaries sign it. This way they agree not to change their mind later and turn around and sue you.

Some Property Does Not Need Probate

Some property already has an after-death owner. That type of property is not part of Brooklyn probate process. Examples include:

  • Joint Bank Account. If the decedent had a joint bank account, the remaining co-owner just takes over. The remaining co-owner can bring the death certificate to the bank and have the bank remove the decedent’s name from the bank account.
  • Assigned Beneficiaries. If the decedent had a bank account or a life insurance policy with named beneficiaries, the bank will disburse the funds directly to the beneficiaries. All the beneficiaries will need to do is go to the bank, show the death certificate and fill out some paperwork.
  • Real Estate Owned With Spouse. If the decedent owned a house together with their spouse, the house goes to the surviving spouse. The surviving spouse needs to go to the county recorder’s office, show the clerk the death certificate, and fill out some paperwork and the county recorder will transfer the house to the surviving spouse’s name.

You can’t always tell if the property is part of Brooklyn probate process or not. In fact, we often see disagreements between various parties regarding whether or not a property is part of Brooklyn probate process. If you have any doubt over ownership or probate status of the property, ask your estate attorney.

Dealing with Disagreements in Brooklyn Probate Process

Brooklyn Probate Process

As part of Brooklyn probate process, you will have to give notice of the proceeding to everyone potentially interested in the estate, such as spouse, children or siblings. Upon receiving the news, some beneficiaries may decide to object. They may claim that either the will is invalid or you are unfit to serve as a personal representative.

If someone objects to you becoming in charge of the estate, you will need to have an experienced estate attorney defend the objections. You want to make sure that you are appointed as a personal representative of the estate despite the beneficiaries’ allegations.

You will not become a full personal representative until you resolve the objections to your appointment, either through the court or through negotiations. The court may still grant you limited temporary powers to manage the estate. But you will not be able to make any distributions to beneficiaries and heirs until the court resolves all objections to your appointment.

If you succeed and the court appoints you as the personal representative but the beneficiaries disagree with the way you want to distribute the assets, they will demand that you file a complete formal accounting. They may then object to the accounting. In the ensuing contested accounting proceeding, the beneficiaries would try to prove that you are not disclosing estate assets or that you are not distributing the assets in the correct way.

You will need an experienced estate lawyer to represent you in that process. The lawyer will make sure that the beneficiaries get only what they are entitled to.

The Role of the Estate Lawyer in Brooklyn Probate Process

Brooklyn probate process can be difficult to navigate. It is filled with technicalities, deadlines, traps for the unwary and red tape. For that reason, you want to have a Brooklyn estate lawyer navigate you through the probate process, whether someone is died without a will or you are probating a will.

Here are some of the things that the estate lawyer will do as part of Brooklyn probate process:

  • fill out the petition
  • obtain all the supporting documents
  • submit the petition and the supporting documents to the court
  • attend court hearings
  • follow through to make sure that you are appointed as the personal representative
  • locate assets
  • value assets
  • deal with disagreements
  • draft and submit an estate accounting
  • defend estate accounting
  • conduct a trial

If your estate has disagreements, seek the services of an estate litigation attorney with a proven track record of results. This is crucial for your best chance of getting the inheritance that you are entitled to.

If all goes well, you should be able to

  • have the court appoint you as the personal representative
  • marshal the assets
  • pay the claims
  • resolve any disagreements and
  • distribute the assets to the right heirs and in the right amount

If you are looking for an estate lawyer who will make Brooklyn process easier and help you defend yourself and protect your rights, give me a call right now at (212) 233-1233.

Brooklyn Estate Lawyer

Brooklyn estate lawyer
A Brooklyn estate lawyer is involved in determining what happens with a person’s property after they die in Brooklyn. In places like Brooklyn, where estate planning can make an impact on who gets your property after your death, estate lawyers get involved way before a person dies, sometimes decades before. A Brooklyn estate lawyer can perform a variety of functions, depending on the stage of the estate process, whom the lawyer represents, what legal documents are involved and what the relationship between the person who died and their family and friends is.

Estate Planning. A Brooklyn estate lawyer writes up the documents that determine what happens to a person’s property after their death. An estate planning lawyer’s function is to set up what is referred to an estate planning package, which may include a will, a trust, a power of attorney, what we refer to in Brooklyn as a health care proxy, and a living will. They would talk to the client and see what they want to happen to their estate after their death, and will then draft the appropriate documents and make sure that the person making the plan signs the estate planning documents correctly, all the formalities required for the documents are followed, and all of the documents that need to be filed are filed in the appropriate government agency.

Probate of an Estate. A Brooklyn estate lawyer represents the people involved in the probate process, which is a court proceeding to determine if a deceased person’s will is valid. Most probate proceedings are uncontested, meaning that the estate lawyer would simply submit an application to admit the will to probate and notify everyone involved, the judge would review the petition and the will gets admitted to probate, meaning that the executor nominated by the will gets appointed to be the executor. The estate lawyer would then make sure that the executor performs their job correctly.

Administration of an Estate. If an estate lawyer was not involved until a person died, and the person died without a will, the court proceeding where it gets decided what happens to their assets after their death is called “estate administration.” The Brooklyn estate lawyer would help the relatives of the person who died become the administrator of the estate. He would fill out the appropriate documents and submit the documents to court. After the relative gets appointed as the estate administrator, the estate lawyer would make sure that the administrator carries out their duties in accordance with the law.

Contesting a Will. When someone is left out of a will, a Brooklyn estate lawyer would help that person contest a will. He would try to prove to the court that the person who died either did not have the mental capacity to make a will, was unduly influenced into making a will, or the will was not made correctly. A different estate lawyer would represent the person who filed the will with the court – defending the will and trying to prove that the will has not defects that would render it invalid.

Contested Accounting. When a beneficiary of an estate suspects that the executor is mismanaging assets of the estate or stole something from the estate, even before the death of the decedent, an estate lawyer would help the beneficiary file a petition for an accounting. A different Brooklyn estate lawyer, representing the executor of the estate, will help the executor prepare an accounting of the estate, which is a statement of the assets that are in the estate and the expenses that the estate incurred. The estate lawyer for the beneficiaries can then object to the accounting and ask the court to make the executor return money that they allegedly took from the estate improperly.

The Judge of the Surrogate’s Court is also a Brooklyn estate lawyer, since they are a lawyer who is dealing with estates on professional basis. The same holds true for many other staff of the Surrogate’s Court, including court attorneys and clerks.

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Albert Goodwin, Esq., a Brooklyn estate, guardianship, wills, trust, medicaid and probate lawyer with over a decade of experience. He can be reached at (212) 233-1233 or (718) 509-9774.

New York State Probate Brooklyn

How Does New York State Probate Brooklyn Work

New York State probate Brooklyn has many components. If you are the person in charge of the estate and are going to be probating a will or doing probate without a will in New York, here’s roughly what the process would look like:

  • you get appointed by the court to be in charge of the estate
  • you locate estate property
  • pay the decedent’s debts and taxes
  • resolve any disagreements
  • and finally distribute the remainder of the property to the heirs

New York State probate Brooklyn steps can vary and they can overlap. To be successful, you’d have to to carefully complete each one of those steps. You would greatly benefit from having a lawyer represent your throughout the process.

Become the Personal Representative

You cannot collect and distribute the inheritance until you are appointed by the court to be in charge of the estate. Once appointed, you are called the “personal representative.”

Remember, just because you are nominated as the executor by the will or are the closest of kin does not automatically make you a personal representative. Probating a will in New York means applying to the Surrogate’s Court of the county where the deceased person resided and have the court approve that application. Same with probate in New York without a will. That’s New York probate procedure. Once the court approves your application, the court will issue you an official certificate from the State of New York, which gives you an official capacity to act on behalf of the estate.

As part of New York State probate Brooklyn, you can apply to become the personal representative if you are the executor nominated by the will. If there is no will, you can apply to be in charge of the estate if you are the closest relative who has the preference.

In New York, a personal representative is called “an executor” if there is a will and “an administrator” if there is no will. That’s just the terminology in New York probate procedure. In reality, there is little functional difference between “executor” and “administrator.”

Locate the Assets of the Estate

Once the court appoints you as the personal representative of an estate, you will need to figure out what assets the estate consists of. Most decedents do not leave behind a complete and updated list of their assets, so you’ll have to do some hunting and legwork.

The decedent’s place of residence is the best place to find documents showing what the decedent owned. Review the decedent’s financial statements, deeds, titles, stock certificates, bond certificates, and any contracts or financial documents.

Tax returns are very useful for finding assets.

If you find the contact information of the decedent’s financial advisors, accountants and attorneys, great! Get in touch with them. Use your authority as a personal representative to have those professionals supply you with information about the decedent’s assets.

As part of the New York State probate Brooklyn, you should review the decedent’s financial statements for signs of assets that you could have missed. Financial statements can contain transfers to bank accounts or payment of expenses for properties. Make a list of those bank accounts and properties and follow up on them.

File an Inventory of the Estate With the Court

As part of New York State probate Brooklyn and probating a will in New York, you need to file an inventory of the estate within six month of being appointed as the personal representative (Form 207.20). It’s a legal form that any estate attorney has. The inventory’s main feature is a list of the assets that you were able to find. This is an important part of New York State probate Brooklyn.

Keep Paying Mortgages and Utilities

You will need to inform the bank that the owner died and have the bank reflect on the account that the mortgage will be paid by the estate. You will also have to keep paying the utility bills.

Taxes

Most estates are not large enough to trigger an estate tax liability. However, if the estate is more than $1 million, it is best to consult with an estate attorney to find out if there are any estate tax forms that you need to fill out. For some estates, you would need to fill out tax forms even if no estate tax is due.

It is possible that the decedent had past tax debt, such as Federal or State income tax. If you find out that the decedent owed back taxes, you would have to pay the back taxes from the estate.

Paying the Decedent’s Debts

In the process of locating the assets of the estate, you may have also located the debts. If anything, debts are usually easier to locate than assets! You and the beneficiaries of the estate are not personally responsible for the decedent’s debts. But it is your responsibility as the personal representative to pay those debts out of the estate.

The decedent’s debts may include attorneys’ fees for work done on the estate, credit card bills, medical bills, utility bill, etc. Do not ignore those debts and do not distribute the assets to beneficiaries instead of paying creditors. You do not want to give the creditors the right to go after you personally.

In addition to debts that you have discovered, there may be other debts that you were not able to see. You may see creditors making claims in an estate. If that happens, you have the option of paying the claim or denying the claim and forcing the creditors to prove that the claim is valid. Creditors have seven months to submit claims. If they miss that deadline, their claims become null and void. As part of New York State probate Brooklyn, you should take creditors seriously.

Calculating Your Commissions

As a personal representative, you are entitled to commissions as part of New York State probate Brooklyn, at the following percentages:

• 5% of all sums of money not exceeding $100,000
• 4% of all sums not exceeding $200,000
• 3% of all sums not exceeding $700,000
• 2.5% of all sums not exceeding $4,000,000
• 2% of all sums not exceeding $5,000,000

Ask your estate lawyer for what is included in the base amount used to calculate the commissions. You can disburse those commissions to yourself before distributing assets.

Getting a Release from Beneficiaries

One of the most important aspects of New York State probate Brooklyn is to get a consent and release from the beneficiaries to have it in writing that they are satisfied with what they are receiving from the estate and to make sure that they do not have the ability to sue you right after they get their distribution.

Distributing the Assets

This is the part of New York State probate Brooklyn that everyone has been looking forward to! You have paid all the debts of the estate, filed your inventory in six months, waited until seven months are up after you are appointed, paid any taxes due and did everything else you had to do as an executor. You are almost ready to distribute the assets of the estate to the beneficiaries. But before you do so, make sure that you prepare an informal accounting and have the beneficiaries sign waivers and releases prepared by your estate attorney. You want them to agree in writing not to sue you after receiving the distributions. You do not want to have a beneficiary receive money from the estate and then use that money to get their own estate lawyer and sue you.

You can distribute assets “in-kind” or as money. If you have doubts as to how you should distribute your assets, you need to work with your attorney, the beneficiaries and their attorneys to figure it out. Make sure that everyone is on the same page and there are no disagreements.

Always have all agreements in writing, do not take anyone at their word alone. The best way to do this is to have your estate attorney prepare an “informal accounting” which outlines the proposed distribution and have all of the beneficiaries sign it. This way they agree not to change their mind later and turn around and sue you.

Some Property Does Not Need Probate

Some property already has an after-death owner. That type of property is not part of New York State probate Brooklyn. Examples include:

  • Joint Bank Account. If the decedent had a joint bank account, the remaining co-owner just takes over. The remaining co-owner can bring the death certificate to the bank and have the bank remove the decedent’s name from the bank account.
  • Assigned Beneficiaries. If the decedent had a bank account or a life insurance policy with named beneficiaries, the bank will disburse the funds directly to the beneficiaries. All the beneficiaries will need to do is go to the bank, show the death certificate and fill out some paperwork.
  • Real Estate Owned With Spouse. If the decedent owned a house together with their spouse, the house goes to the surviving spouse. The surviving spouse needs to go to the county recorder’s office, show the clerk the death certificate, and fill out some paperwork and the county recorder will transfer the house to the surviving spouse’s name.

You can’t always tell if the property is part of the New York State probate Brooklyn or not. In fact, we often see disagreements between various parties regarding whether or not a property is part of New York State probate Brooklyn. If you have any doubt over ownership or probate status of the property, ask your estate attorney.

Dealing with Disagreements in New York State Probate Brooklyn

New York State Probate Brooklyn

As part of New York State probate Brooklyn, you will have to give notice of the proceeding to everyone potentially interested in the estate, such as spouse, children or siblings. Upon receiving the news, some beneficiaries may decide to object. They may claim that either the will is invalid or you are unfit to serve as a personal representative.

If someone objects to you becoming in charge of the estate, you will need to have an experienced estate attorney defend the objections. You want to make sure that you are appointed as a personal representative of the estate despite the beneficiaries’ allegations.

You will not become a full personal representative until you resolve the objections to your appointment, either through the court or through negotiations.  The court may still grant you limited temporary powers to manage the estate. But you will not be able to make any distributions to beneficiaries and heirs until the court resolves all objections to your appointment.

If you succeed and the court appoints you as the personal representative but the beneficiaries disagree with the way you want to distribute the assets, they will demand that you file a complete formal accounting. They may then object to the accounting. In the ensuing contested accounting proceeding, the beneficiaries would try to prove that you are not disclosing estate assets or that you are not distributing the assets in the correct way.

You will need an experienced estate lawyer to represent you in that process. The lawyer will make sure that the beneficiaries get only what they are entitled to.

The Role of the Estate Lawyer in New York State Probate Brooklyn

New York State probate Brooklyn can be difficult to navigate. It is filled with technicalities, deadlines, traps for the unwary and red tape. For that reason, you want to have a New York estate lawyer navigate you through the New York State probate Brooklyn, whether someone has died without a will or you are probating a will.

Here are some of the things that the estate lawyer will do as part of New York State probate Brooklyn:

  • fill out the petition
  • obtain all the supporting documents
  • submit the petition and the supporting documents to the court
  • attend court hearings
  • follow through to make sure that you are appointed as the personal representative
  • locate assets
  • value assets
  • deal with disagreements
  • draft and submit an estate accounting
  • defend estate accounting
  • conduct a trial

If your estate has disagreements, seek the services of an estate litigation attorney with a proven track record of results. This is crucial for the best chance of getting the inheritance that you are entitled to.

If all goes well, you should be able to

  • have the court appoint you as the personal representative
  • marshal the assets
  • pay the claims
  • resolve any disagreements and
  • distribute the assets to the right heirs and in the right amount

If you are looking for an estate lawyer who will make the New York process easier and help you defend yourself and protect your rights, give me a call right now at (212) 233-1233.

Kings County Surrogate’s Court Information

Kings County Surrogate’s Court Address

2 Johnson Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Main Phone: 347-404-9700
Fax: 212-520-6850

Kings County Surrogate's Court Brooklyn

Kings County Surrogate’s Court Phone Number Directory

Department Phone Number
Miscellaneous 347-404-9680
Accounting 347-404-9700
Guardianship 347-404-9733 
Probate 347-404-9670
Administration/Small Estates 347-404-9690
Adoption 347-404-9700

Directions to Kings County Surrogate’s Court

Enter your starting address:

 

Subway Directions: 2, 3, 4 or 5 trains to Borough Hall; A, C or F trains to Jay Street/Borough Hall; R train to Court Street.

Hours of Work for Kings County Surrogate Court

Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

(Clerks of the court can leave early at the end of the day and can be on a break during lunchtime. Also, trying to file things at the end of the day is not a good idea, especially on a Friday.)

The court is closed on all state holidays.

Courtroom

The courtroom number is Room 319.

Judges of Kings County Surrogate’s Court

Kings County Surrogate's Court Judge Lopez Torres

Hon. Margarita Lopez Torres. Hon. Lopez Torres has been the Kings County Surrogate’s Court judge since the year 2006. She has a history fo serving the people of New York, first as a teacher, then working for Legal Services, as legal counsel for the City of New York, and as a Civil Court Judge. Judge Lopez Torres is a no-nonsense judge who is very serious about the cases before her.

Hon. Harriet Thompson. Judge Thompson’s term began on January 1, 2019. She has previously served the people of Brooklyn as a Civil Court judge. Judge Thompson maintains that everybody has their approach to being a justice and hers is to look at every case with an open mind and apply the law in a fair way.

The judges have a staff of clerks who help them analyze cases and conduct pre-trial, scheduling, and settlement conferences.

Chief Clerk
Doreen A. Quinn

Ms. Quinn shines during the Kings County Surrogate’s Court calendar call. She does the scheduling and logistics. She helps the court and attorneys get through the calendar and get things done.

Kings County Surrogate’s Court is located on the second floor of the courthouse building. It’s called the third floor, but it’s the second floor in my opinion.

Kings County County Surrogate Court Departments

Kings County Surrogate’s Court deals through its various departments with the following matters:

Kings County Probate – Kings County Surrogate Court handles estate proceedings involving a will. That’s why some people call it “Brooklyn Probate Court.” Most probate proceedings are uncontested – the person who brings in the will (the proponent) submits the will, has their Brooklyn estate lawyer fill out the appropriate paperwork and files the original will in the Brooklyn Surrogate’s 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 go on a contested track.

Kings County Estate Administration – Kings County 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.

Kings County Guardianship – Surrogate’s Court Kings County 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 illness (this is known as Mental Health Law Article 81 guardianships)

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

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

You can request information about an estate from Kings County Surrogate’s Court by writing them a letter with the correct legal name of the person who died, and include a check for $30 made out to Kings County Surrogate’s Court, and either a return stamped envelope or your email address to receive the information.

Kings County Accountings – Kings County 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.

Kings County Miscellaneous Proceedings – Kings County Surrogate’s Court Miscellaneous department handles Affidavits of Service and Applications to Open Safe Deposit Boxes and Sealed Apartments. The Miscellaneous Department 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 Brooklyn 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.

If you need an attorney for Kings County Surrogate’s Court, call Albert Goodwin, Esq., a New York estate, guardianship, wills, trust, and probate lawyer with over a decade of experience. You can call Albert Goodwin, Esq. at (212) 233-1233.