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I focus my private practice on Surrogate's Court matters, including probate and estate administration, kinship/cousin cases with the Public Administrator, and the appointment of fiduciaries for wrongful death cases.  I also consult with other attorneys regarding practice development and law office management.

When people refer to “cousins”,  in a way that covers a variety of relationships. For family and social purposes there isn’t much difference between first cousins, second cousins and “cousins once removed. But for legal purposes when inheritances are involved, there are big differences. The distinctions arise in two particular situations:

  1. When a person dies

As noted in previous posts, aunts/uncles/cousins CAN inherit, if they can disprove the prior inheritance classes (spouse, children, grandchildren, parents, siblings/nieces/nephews) and prove their own relationship and identify and account for everyone at their inheritance level. This generally arises when the Public Administrator is filing a Accounting with the Court and refers to the cousins

People often use the “cousin” terms loosely, as if they were interchangeable.  For social purposes they are interchangeable, but legally they are decidedly NOT.  This distinction arises in two particular situations:

  1. When a person dies without a Will (which is called “intestate”) and the closest relatives are cousins.
  2. When a Will is being offered for

Many lawyers deal with Surrogate’s Court only peripherally.  Considering that questions about Estates and Surrogate’s Court arise so often, it is worth knowing the basics. Here are the top 10 things worth knowing about Surrogate’s Court….

1. The Surrogate Court Clerk’s offices are broken down into departments:

– Probate (Appointment of a fiduciary when there

The word “probate” is often tossed around as something to be avoided.  As if the failure to avoid it were a mark of stupidity, or symbolized a lack of care or planning.

On some level if a person does extensive planning, and has ALL their assets with named beneficiaries, or if a person creates a