Connors & Sullivan attorneys at law, pllc
Tell Us About Your Estate Planning Needs:

Who has rights to a copy of a decedent's will?

Trust, but verify. That's an adage that comes to us from Russia. Ronald Reagan made it famous during his presidency, using it often in connection with nuclear disarmament talks.

When it comes to the disposition of wills and other elements of a New York estate plan, it might be understandable for members of a decedent's family to want to apply the same wisdom to be sure that asset distribution goes according to the creator's wishes. The easiest way to achieve this might be for the executor to simply distribute copies of the documents. Whether that happens or not depends on a number of factors.

New York law does require that the administrator of an estate notify any beneficiary named in a will when the will is submitted for probate. Included on that list is supposed to be anyone who might benefit from the estate if no will existed. In the hierarchy of succession in New York, that would mean the spouse, any descendants, and parents and siblings of the deceased if there is no spouse or descendants.

However, providing a copy of the will as part of notification is not a requirement. One main reason why is because of probate proceedings. When a will exists and the estate is valued at more than $30,000, the law requires the executor to submit the document to Surrogate's Court in the county where the decedent lived. The rules also require that it be the original, not a copy.

When probate occurs, the court oversees the distribution to beneficiaries after any debts have been paid. Upon completion of the probate process, the will becomes a matter of public record, and then any interested individual can obtain a copy of the document.

There might be instances in which an executor fails to submit a will for required probate. When that happens, it's time to consult an attorney to determine if there's value in going to court to force compliance.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information
Your Trusted Guides For Every Stage Of Life And Every Step
Of The Estate Planning Process

Set Up Your Free Initial Consultation

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

Connors & Sullivan attorneys at law, pllc

Visit us at one of our 5 locations.

Brooklyn Office
7408 Fifth Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11209

Phone: 718-414-6209
Fax: 718-238-2616
Brooklyn map

Bayside Office
200-20 Northern Boulevard
Bayside, NY 11361

Phone: 718-414-6209
Bayside map

Middle Village Office
79-43 Metropolitan Avenue
Middle Village, NY 11379

Phone: 718-414-6209
middle village map

Staten Island Office
1250 Hylan Boulevard
Staten Island, NY 10305

Phone: 718-414-6209
staten island map

Manhattan Office
110 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022

Phone: 718-414-6209
Map & Directions