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All About the Surrogate's Court

The Surrogate’s Court is a specialized court that handles the affairs of decedents, or those who have passed away, testamentary trusts or trusts that have been created under a Will, and inter-vivos trusts or trusts created during one’s life. The SCPA, Surrogate’s Court Procedures Act outline the rules of court procedures for the Surrogate’s Court and the EPTL or Estates Powers and Trusts Law is the body of law used by the Surrogate’s Court. The default rules for the Surrogate’s Court is the CPLR, which are the rules of New York’s Supreme Court. When one dies with a Will, one brings it to the Surrogate’s Court to have it probated or “proved” to be valid. When one dies without a Will, then an Administrator must be appointed and this is usually a close family member. In addition to these two main proceedings, the Surrogate’s Court handles Accounting Proceedings, where fiduciaries are held to account for how they have handled beneficiary accounts and Miscellaneous Proceedings that are a catch-all for the many different other proceedings that can take place.

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