The Surrogate's Court hears cases involving the affairs of decedents, including the probate of wills and the administration of estates.
Among other things, Surrogate's Court hears cases involving the affairs of decedents, including the probate of wills and the administration of estates. Many times, our office appears before this court to assist clients in various capacities.
Within this area of law there are certain documents which govern what is to happen during life and after death. A will for example, is a document an individual executes during life which determines how their remaining estate shall be handled upon passing. This is very different from a power of attorney or health care proxy. A power of attorney empowers a chosen agent to act on your behalf during life for matters related to finances, while a health care proxy designates an agent to make health care decisions for you in the event that you are unable to do so yourself.
Upon death, a health care proxy and power of attorney expires. It is at this time that a will is now triggered and governs how your wishes are handled, regardless of what may have been written elsewhere or discussed with loved ones. Unless the formalities of a will are adhered to, the person is considered to have died intestate. Quite simply, this means that the states statutes on intestacy will be triggered automatically and there would be a pecking order, or, hierarchy of how the estate’s assets are going to be distributed. This is unfortunately, without regard for what the specific wishes of the individual may have been. It is for this reason why we stress to everyone, regardless of their age or health status, that it is very important to have a valid will so your wishes would control. Furthermore, it is very critical that the will be supervised by an attorney and the formalities of the execution be adhered to otherwise the will can be challenged and disregarded by the Court.
If you currently have a will and would like to make changes to it, or don’t have a will at all, our office would be happy to discuss options with you. Our office takes Surrogate matters very seriously, and as your counsel, we understand that in New York State these matters have to be done with appropriate formalities as Surrogate’s Court practice is highly technical. For instance, we would strongly discourage making any changes to an existing will since it could potentially invalidate the document and not be accepted in Court thereafter. It is important that you have a skilled attorney that can prepare a will, and that understands the rigors, policy and procedure of the Court so your will is enforceable.
If you require our services in connection with a will, power of attorney, health care proxy, or will contest, please feel welcome to give our office a call (further information is provided on the sub-page links provide above). We treat cases with our full attention and compassion knowing that this may be a very difficult time for you. Consultations are always FREE and our rates remain competitive. In addition, flexible payment plans may be available on a case to case basis. For further information as to your specific needs, please feel welcome to click the links above to view their dedicated pages. We look forward to assisting you and working on your behalf!
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