In New York State, the Surrogate's Court decides what happens to a person's property when that person dies. The Judge in Surrogate's Court is called the Surrogate. The person who died is called the Decedent. That person's property is called the estate. When a person dies and leaves a Will then they died testate. If the person died without leaving a Will, then they died intestate.
There are three different kinds of estate proceedings in Surrogate's Court.
Small Estate: This is also called a voluntary administration. If a person died with less than $50,000 worth of personal property, then a small estate can be filed. It doesn't matter if there was a Will or not.
Probate: If a person dies with a Will, then the kind of proceeding filed is called probate and the property is divided according to the Will.
Administration: If a person dies without a Will, then the proceeding filed is called administration and the property is divided according to New York State law.
If you’ve recently lost a loved one, or are helping someone who has, we know this is a challenging time. We are here to help you with estate administration, New York probate and the inheritance process: Probate and Estate Administration