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What Do I Do If I Received a Westchester County Surrogate’s Court Citation?

Know What Your Rights Are When You’ve Gotten Papers

If someone has recently died, and you are one of his or her heirs, it is extremely important that you understand the initial procedures that come about when starting probate of the estate. Knowing what some of the initial paperwork means is important because how you respond will help determine what your rights are later on with the estate. Failing to properly respond to papers you are served in a Surrogate’s Court case could mean losing your rightful inheritance, meaning that if you get any paperwork relating to an estate, you contact a Westchester estate attorney right away.

When someone who resided in Westchester dies, their will must be submitted before the Westchester Surrogate’s Court to be probated. When it comes to an estate where all of the heirs are in agreement about the will or how the estate should be distributed, usually all of the heirs will sign consents to have these legal proceedings go forward.

In some cases, mainly those where all the heirs and beneficiaries have not signed a waiver, citations may be served upon the heirs, in the same way other legal papers are served. This citation will list a specific date where someone would have to show up to court to argue they have an objection to the will or some other aspect of the estate. If an heir does not show up on that date, it will be determined by the surrogate’s court that they consented to admitting the estate to probate.

If you get a citation for an estate where you are an heir, it is important to contact a Westchester estate attorney right away to protect your future rights, especially in the case of there being a possible dispute over the will. If you plan on contesting the will, the deadline to state you are going to do so would be the same one that is listed on the citation that you get.

One of the things that you especially need to keep an eye out for when you are served a citation is what, exactly, is being asked for. If the person is asking for Letters Testamentary, it means there is a will associated with the estate that was filed with the Surrogate’s Court. If you are an heir to the estate, it is essential that you get a copy of this will before the date on the citation so that you can know what is in it or if there are any problems. If, by chance, this was not served on you with the citation, you will need to get a copy from the court.

If the citation is asking for Letters Administration, it means that the person died intestate, or without a will. Someone getting these letters assigned to them does not mean in any way that they are going to be taking the entire estate. Instead it means that they will assume duties similar to that of an executor of an estate with a will, where that person will pay off bills and distribute assets.

Whenever you get a citation or a request to consent to admitting an estate in to probate, hiring a Westchester estate attorney to review your paperwork is incredibly important. You only have a limited amount of time to respond, so you must find out right away if there is an issue that needs to be dealt with, so give us a call at (914) 293-2043.