When probating a will in New York County Surrogate’s Court, you’ll need to file the original will and a certified copy of the death certificate with the Probate Department. But how do you file these documents in the age of E-Filing and Covid-19?

Continue Reading Filing Original Will and Death Certificate in New York County Surrogate’s Court

Kings County Surrogate Harriet L. Thompson was suspended on Friday, according to the New York Law Journal.

An acting surrogate will be named to handle the caseload, Lucian Chalfe, the Director of Public Information for the New York State Unified Court System, told the Law Journal. It was not immediately clear from the Law Journal’s report who the acting surrogate will be or when they will begin. Continue Reading Surrogate Thompson Suspended. Acting Surrogate to be Named: NYLJ

WebSurrogate, the online document retrieval service for Surrogate’s Courts, relaunched.

The website was originally launched in the spring and quickly taken offline.

According to its website, “WebSurrogate provides information on estate proceedings and other filings within New York State Surrogate’s Courts. WebSurrogate is a free service that allows you to search files, retrieve documents, and view historical records that are considered to be public information.”

WebSurrogate, a virtual record room, will most certainly save practitioners countless trips to the courthouse.

Kings County Surrogate Harriet L. Thompson is once again issuing citations, according to an announcement from Surrogate Thompson’s chambers posted by the New York Law Journal.

The Kings County Surrogate’s Court Accounting Department also confirmed that Surrogate Thompson is once again issuing citations. Continue Reading Surrogate Thompson Begins Issuing Citations Again

New York County Surrogate’s Court has special requirements when probating duplicate original wills.

The proposed decree must include the text of the entire will(s). A sample decree provided to me by the New York County Surrogate’s Court looks like this:

Continue Reading New York County Surrogate’s Court: Decree Requirements When Probating Duplicate Original Wills

The Queens County Surrogate’s Court continues to require more time than usual to review submissions, advising E-Filers that it will take up to eight weeks to review documents. I recently E-Filed a Petition for Administration in Queens and received the following auto-generated email. Continue Reading Queens County Continues to Experience Processing Delays

Kings County Surrogate’s Court now allows attorneys to verify petitions on behalf of their clients where the client is not in the county where the attorney has their office, but the Court still requires that the petitioner sign the petition.

Pursuant to CPLR § 3020(d)(3), “if the party … is not in the county where the attorney has his office . . . the verification may be made by such … attorney.”

Despite the provisions of CPLR § 3020(d)(3), Kings County’s Petition Requirements previously required the “Notarized signature of the PETITIONER” in all circumstances.

I recently filed a petition both signed and verified by me, because my client was not in the count where I have my office. The Miscellaneous Department advised me that my verification of the pleading was authorized, but my client was still required to sign the petition.

Most estate litigators in New York are well aware of the proceeding to compel production of a will pursuant to Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (“SCPA”)  § 1401. However, there are other remedies available against a person withholding a last will and testament from a petitioner without good cause.

New York’s Penal Law § 190.30 makes unlawfully concealing a will a class E felony, which can land the concealer in prison for up to four years. Per Penal Law § 190.30: “A person is guilty of unlawfully concealing a will when, with intent to defraud, he conceals, secretes, suppresses, mutilates or destroys a will, codicil or other testamentary instrument.”

Continue Reading Using New York Penal Law to Compel Production of a Will

These days, my practice focuses almost exclusively on estate litigation, surrogate’s court practice, and adult guardianship. However, I used to do estate planning.

My office created a descent and distribution diagram to aide estate planning clients in visualizing the difference between per capita, per stirpes, and by representation.

Continue Reading My Office’s Descent and Distribution Diagram