New York Surrogate's Court
|New York State Unified Court System|
The Surrogate's Court handles all probate and estate proceedings in the state of New York. All wills are probated in this court and all estates of people who die without a will are handled in this court. Unclaimed property of the deceased without wills is handled by the Judge of this court.
Each of New York's 62 counties has one surrogate judge, with New York County having two, and Kings County having two since 2006. Surrogate judges are elected countywide for 10-year terms, except for the five counties within New York City where surrogate judges are elected for 14-year terms. In some rural counties, surrogate judge duties are handled by the county court judge.
There have been frequent efforts to abolish the surrogate's court and redistribute its powers to the New York Supreme Court (the general trial court) and the Family Court. The most recent efforts stem from the corruption scandal surrounding former Brooklyn Surrogate Michael Feinberg, who was removed from the bench in 2005.