It is well known that writing an estate plan is essential to have an effectual distribution of assets at death. A lot of time and effort can be expended creating a Last Will, Living Will, Health Care Proxy and Power of Attorney that reflect a person’s desires and intentions. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published numerous articles examining the planning of estates.
Additionally, it should be recognized that in order for a Last Will to be put into effect, the Will must be validated through the probate process. This process requires that the Will be filed with the Surrogate’s Court and subjected to the review and procedures mandated by the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act and the Estates, Powers and Trusts Law. One of the most essential aspects involved with probating a Will is the necessity to provide the proper notice to a decedent’s next of kin or distributees. This requirement has been reviewed on many occasions in this blog and it is important to bear in mind. A decedent’s next of kin must be given notice because they have a right to contest the Will. In many cases if the purported Will is found to be invalid, the distributees are entitled to receive an intestate share of the estate which may be much greater than their interest under the Will.
The usual course of a probate case involves the issuance of a Citation by the Surrogate’s Court. A Citation is like a Summons and informs the parties to whom it is directed to appear in Court on a date certain and provide any Objections to the Will. The Citation must be served on the distributees in a manner provided by the statutes and Court directions. Once proper service of the Citation occurs, the Court has jurisdiction to hear and rule regarding probate.