A Guide to Serving Citations in New York Probate Proceedings
When a person passes away, their Last Will and Testament must be filed in court in a probate proceeding. Probate is the legal process where the terms cited in a decedent’s will are approved by a judge, and their properties, assets, and possessions are distributed to the beneficiaries.
New York law requires that all of the decedents’ heirs be properly served with a notice of the probate proceeding through a Citation.
The citation works similarly to a summons. It directs an heir to appear before the Surrogate’s Court at a set time and date to advise whether they have objections to the probate. If no objections are made, the heirs will be asked to sign a waiver confirming their agreement to the probate.
How Is a Citation Served in New York?
In New York State, the Surrogate’s Court requires citations to be personally served to the respondent through a process server. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the court permits the service of citation via Federal Express or Certified Mail.
In cases of personal delivery, the process server will go to the respondent’s address and serve them the legal documents. Citations must be served at least ten (10) days prior to the date they need to appear in court.
What If the Citation’s Recipient Lives Outside New York?
If the intended recipient lives outside New York, the Surrogate’s court permits the delivery of citations via Certified Mail. A return receipt must be issued. Citations must be served at least twenty (20) days before the date of the hearing.
What if the Recipient is Evasive or Cannot Be Found?
In these cases, the petitioner (the person who filed the probate) can appear before the court during the return date and request permission to serve the citation via a different method.
Here are other service methods that may be permitted:
- Service by Publication: The petitioner will serve the citation by publishing it in a newspaper for a specific time determined by the court.
- Service via Registered Mail or Certified Mail
- Serving of citation to an individual of legal age who the process server thinks can be trusted to successfully deliver the documents to the respondent
Once the recipients have agreed to the probate, their attorney will need to respond with a Notice of Appearance, informing the court of their client’s involvement. If they fail to respond or appear before the court, they are deemed to have forfeited their rights to the Will.
Trusted New York Process Servers
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