Your long-ill mother dies after spending years in a nursing home. She leaves behind a sizeable estate and, for years leading up to her death, had talked with both you and your two siblings about how she was intending on dividing her property and assets upon her death equally between the three of you. You therefore believe that you are indeed a beneficiary under your deceased mother’s will and entitled to one third of her estate upon her death, as are each of your brother and sister. However, at your mother’s funeral, your other two siblings pull you aside to tell that, shortly before her death, your mother executed a new will. They both insist that they, and not you, were the only beneficiaries under your mother’s new will. Further, they tell you that your mother scrapped the last will prepared by the long-time family lawyer, in favor of a new will prepared by an attorney that was a friend of your brother. This is the first you have heard of this development and, naturally suspicious of what you are being told by your siblings, you call the new attorney, who refuses to tell you anything regarding any interactions he may have had with your mother or your siblings regarding this new will. He refuses to confirm whether or not he performed any work for your mother. Furthermore, he also refuses to show you a copy of your mother’s “new” will. You are understandably frustrated. How can you get a copy of the will? Or what about your long time friend who had told you more than once that we he leaving you in his will who passes away and you are told that he never had a will giving anything to you. What are your rights in these, and similar situations? Thankfully, New York law allows interested parties to force anyone with access to, or knowledge of, the will to produce that information in court. This article will briefly describe how, but all practical questions should be addressed to a competent New York estate attorney.
Who Can Compel Production of a Will?
The Surrogate Procedures Act (SCPA), which governs estate and probate proceedings in New York State, discusses who can compel production of a will in sections SCPA 1401 and SCPA 1402.
They are as follows:
- A beneficiary under a will (or their guardian)
- Any person who is entitled to Letters of Administration, cta (as per SCPA 1418).
- The public administrator
- A creditor of the decedent or someone who can name the decedent as a party to a legal action.
The Procedure for Compelling the Production of a Will in New York
The proceeding is commenced with the filing of a petition, and the payment of a filing fee of $20. The petition should list the relationship of the person to the decedent, as well as who the person believes to have knowledge about the will. It should also state what attempts were made to request a copy of the will.
When a petition to compel production of a will has been filed, the Surrogates court is authorized to order the person believed to be in possession of the will to come to the Court at a certain time and bring the will with him or her. This “Order” to attend is served on the party believed to have information about the will and gives them a date and time to appear in court and produce the will or give information about its whereabouts. If the person you are ordering to compel production has the will, they have to file it on or before that court date, which will give you the right to review it and decide what to do next, in consultation with your estate attorney.
Contributed By: The Law Offices Of Roman Aminov
Experienced New York estate planning and probate attorney Roman Aminov of the Law Offices of Roman Aminov, P.C. has considerable experience dealing a whole range of estate planning and probate issues. Roman has dealt with all sorts of wrinkles in the estate planning and probate process in New York, including compelling the production of a will where someone may be resisting production of a will, and can assist clients with exactly the type of issue involved in the scenario discussed above in addition to any other estate planning or probate issues or needs in New York. Roman serves clients throughout all five boroughs of New York City in need of expert estate planning and probate services. If you are in need of an experienced estate planning or probate attorney in New York, contact attorney Roman Aminov of the Law Offices of Roman Aminov, P.C. today at (347) 766-2685 for a free telephone consultation regarding your particular situation.