New York Probate Law

Most states have their probate provisions contained in the probate code. However, the New York Probate Law is found in the Surrogate’s Court Procedure statute (SCP), article 14, probate proceedings; construction of wills; right of election.

Here are select provisions of the New York probate law which set forth the court rules and requirements regarding probate in New York:

§ 1401. Proceeding to compel production of will
Whenever  it shall appear to the court, sua sponte, or by the petition
of a person authorized under the  succeeding  section  of  this  act  to
present  a  petition for the probate of a will, that there is reasonable
ground to believe that any person has knowledge of  the  whereabouts  or
destruction  of  a  will  of  a  decedent  the  court  may make an order
requiring the person or persons named therein to attend and be  examined
in  the  premises.  Service  of  the order must be made by delivery of a
certified copy thereof to the person or  persons  named  therein  either
personally  or  in  such manner as the court shall direct. The court may
either  in  the  order  or  otherwise  in  the  proceeding  require  the
production  and  filing  in  court  of any will of the decedent which it
finds is in the possession or under the control of the  respondent.  The
court may impose the reasonable attorneys fees of the petitioner in such
a  proceeding  against  a  respondent  when  the  court  determines  the
respondent did not have good cause to withhold production of  such  will
or codicil.

§ 1402. Who may propound will; contents of petition; direction of court
1.  Who  may  petition.  A  petition  for the probate of a will may be
presented by
(a) any person designated in the will as legatee,  devisee,  fiduciary
or  guardian  or  by the guardian of an infant legatee or devisee or the
committee of an incompetent legatee or devisee, or the conservator of  a
legatee  or  devisee  who  has been designated a conservatee pursuant to
article seventy-seven of the mental hygiene law;
(b) a creditor or any person interested  or  any  person  entitled  to
letters of administration with the will annexed under 1418;
(c)  any  party  to  an action brought or about to be brought in which
action the decedent, if living, would be a party;
(d) the Public Administrator or  County  Treasurer  on  order  of  the
court,  where a will has been filed in the court and proceedings for its
probate have not been instituted or diligently prosecuted.
2. Contents of petition. The petition for  probate  shall  allege  the
citizenship  of  the  petitioner and the testator and shall describe the
will being offered for probate and any other will of the  same  testator
on  file  in  the  court  and  shall set forth the names and post-office
addresses so far as they can be ascertained with due diligence of all of
the persons required to be cited and all of the legatees,  devisees  and
fiduciaries named in the will or any other will so filed.
3. Direction of court.
(a) Where a petition for probate has been filed and the proceeding has
not   been  diligently  prosecuted  the  court  may  direct  the  Public
Administrator or County Treasurer or authorize any party  to  take  such
steps as may be required to bring the proceeding to a decree.
(b)  Where  necessary,  the court shall determine the text or tenor of
the will as admitted to probate and may incorporate the will or any part
thereof in the decree.

§ 1403. Persons to be served; content of process
1.    In  a proceeding for the probate of a will process must issue to
the following persons if not petitioners:
(a)  The distributees of the testator.
(b)  The person or persons designated in the will as  executor  except
that a person designated in the will as substitute or successor executor
in the event the designated executor cannot act or fails to qualify need
not be served where the designated executor is under no disability.
(c)    Any  person  designated  in  the will as beneficiary, executor,
trustee or guardian, whose rights or interests are adversely affected by
any other instrument offered for  probate  that  is  later  in  date  of
execution or which amends or modifies an instrument offered for probate.
(d)    Any  person  designated  as  beneficiary,  executor, trustee or
guardian in any other will of the same testator filed in the surrogate’s
court of the county in which the propounded will is filed  whose  rights
or  interests  are  adversely  affected  by  the  instrument offered for
(e) If the propounded will expressly refers  to  an  instrument  which
created  a  power  of appointment and purports to exercise such power of
appointment, any persons designated in the instrument that created  such
power of appointment whose rights or interests are adversely affected by
the instrument offered for probate.
(f)    The  testator  in  any case where the petition alleges that the
testator is believed to be dead.
(g)   The state tax  commission  in  the  case  of  a  non-domiciliary
(h)    Where  any  person to whom process is required to be issued has
died, process shall  issue  to  his  fiduciary  and  if  none  has  been
appointed,   to   all  persons  interested  as  distributees,  nominated
fiduciaries or named as legatees or  devisees  under  any  will  of  the
deceased filed in the court.
(i)   The provisions of section three hundred fifteen shall apply to a
proceeding under this section.
2.  The process must set forth the name of the proponent  and  if  the
will is nuncupative, that fact.

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