Surviving heirs of a decedent have certain rights under New York Probate Laws, including inheritance rights and rights to request a copy of the decedent’s will and a right to receive the estate accounting. Those and some of the other rights will be discussed in this post.
Right to Contest the Will
An heir who believes they have a right to inherit by law even if they have been omitted from a will, may contest the decedent’s will by filing a petition with the New York Surrogate’s Court and requesting a hearing on the matter. The person making the will contest must appear in at the hearing (in person or through their New York attorney) or they give up their rights to contest the decedent’s will under New York Probate Laws. However, if an heir agreed in writing to accept a lesser amount than is provided in the decedent’s will or under the New York Statutes, then the heir may not contest the will with regard to any right to inherit. Here is our article about winning a will contest in New York.
Right to Challenge the Fiduciary’s Actions
Heirs also have the right to request the court to remove an executor or personal representative if they suspect that person has breached a fiduciary duty or is incompetent to serve. An heir may have the right to be named as a successor executor or serve an as co-executor with the approval of the Court and other interested parties. Heirs may demand to see an accounting of the estate assets and distributions by making a written request to the New York Surrogate’s Court or to the personal representative. An heir may also request a special meeting or other information from the personal representative by making a written request.
Right to Resolve an Estate Disagreement
If there is a disagreement over estate issues such as the valuation of estate property, who gets what or executors fees, an heir has the right to have the court resolve the disagreement. Similarly in a case of an unclear will or trust, heirs have the right to have the disagreement resolved by the court.
Since New York Probate Laws are complex, and there are many issues that may come up in a probate estate, it is recommended that a New York Probate Attorney be consulted to assist with the administration of the probate estate and distribution of assets to the heirs and other matters that may require legal assistance in connection with the winding up and settling of a New York probate estate.
If you wish to speak to a New York estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (212) 233-1233.