An SCPA 2103 discovery proceeding is used to discover assets in a New York City estate. It is sometimes brought by a fiduciary to discover assets held by third parties or beneficiaries and sometimes brought by beneficiaries to discover assets allegedly held by the fiduciary.
In the case of a beneficiary, it is often more efficient to bring a proceeding to compel an accounting than an SCPA 2103 discovery proceeding, but circumstances differ.
Part of an executor’s or administrator’s duties while settling the estate is to gather up estate property in order to pay creditors and give that property to those entitled to inherit it either through the will or through intestacy laws. The executor or administrator (also known as the fiduciary) has a powerful tool in his or her arsenal with SCPA 2103 proceedings, which allows for an inquiry into who may be holding property along with getting such property back from any parties that may be holding it. With the help of a New York City estate attorney, the fiduciary can use these proceedings in order to do their duty and get estate property into the possession of the estate.
There are two types of proceedings within the SCPA 2103 proceedings that both work together towards a common goal. The first part of the proceeding is an inquiry proceeding, which would bring someone who is believed to be holding real or personal property that belongs to the estate in front of the court. The purpose of this is to see if the party is holding the property or has knowledge of where the property is so that the fiduciary can use his or her powers in order to gather up that property. The respondent in such a case has a few options, such as declaring if they have the property or not or declaring the property does not rightfully belong to the estate, with the ultimate goal of being the gathering of evidence of where estate property might be.
The inquiry proceeding is not ultimately required if the fiduciary has ample proof of where the property is before beginning the SCPA 2103 proceeding’s turnover stage. At this stage, which could occur at the completion of the inquiry phase or without it altogether, the fiduciary and the party holding on to the estate property (otherwise known as the respondent) would have the judge or jury decide if the estate owns the property and whether it should be turned over, or if the estate has no claim to the property, leaving it to be left in the respondent’s hands.
There are parties who have the standing to bring an SCPA 2103 proceeding besides the fiduciary. Those who have some standing to the estate are also allowed to bring such as proceeding if they have allowed to under New York law. Some examples of this would be parties who have an interest in the proceedings, such as creditors or beneficiaries, who are attempting to force the fiduciary to act when it comes to gathering up estate property.
SCPA 2103 proceedings are litigation just like many other types of civil cases, meaning that a skilled New York City estate attorney, who understands all of the requirements of such a proceeding when it comes to the civil procedure relating to bringing a 2103 proceeding in front of the court. Call New York City estate attorney Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.