How to Succeed in a Kinship Hearing

A kinship process takes place when a decedent dies without a will and only remote heirs are left behind. The kinship hearing process provides a formal mechanism to confirm blood relatives and present proof of heirship when legal complications arise. Read on to learn how you can succeed in a kinship hearing.

The Commencement of a Kinship Proceeding

Kinship proceedings usually take place when a public administrator is appointed to act as the fiduciary when the family members are unable to manage the estate. For example, a first cousin does not have the grounds to become a fiduciary, even if they’re the closest living relative. A public administrator will then become the fiduciary.

If a person passes away without a will or available heirs, an ad is usually released to inform alleged heirs. If any come forward, they must file a claim in probate court for a kinship hearing. The court sets the date for a preliminary hearing once any objections are filed. The date for the kinship hearing is scheduled after that.

Woman standing at a podium

The Investigation and Collection of Evidence

Hearing proceedings will include testimonies from the claimant, the decedent’s friends, neighbors, and co-workers to prove a confirmed family tree. A family tree is the core of the evidence presented at the kinship hearing. It’s important to establish it through exhaustive investigation and documentation.

A detailed assessment of the decedent’s personal items might help with establishing kinship information, mainly to ensure that the claimant actually has a legal right to the deceased’s estate. The public administrator will collect the decedent’s personal papers, like certified documents, photos, letters, cell phone and address book to that end.

Proving the Family Tree

The court attorney referee, who is the legal officer usually presiding over kinship hearings, will assess all the documents and raise an objection if something is amiss. After that all of these will be admitted into evidence. It is crucial to make the necessary efforts to get any missing documents as quickly as possible in the 1-year time limit set to prove the family tree.

Once the claimant submits all the documents, each party makes their case and waits for the court attorney referee’s report and decision as well as the guardian ad litem’s report. If the hearing proceeds in the claimant’s favor, the Surrogate court will make a decision and order the estate’s distribution to the client as the true legal heir.

Need an experienced estate attorney specializing in inheritance and estate law attorney Brooklyn, estate law attorney Queens and New York? Joseph Ledwidge at Ledwidge & Associates, P.C. has experience in these practice areas and can help you take action accordingly. Contact us to make an appointment with our expert attorneys.

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How to Succeed in a Kinship Hearing

Ledwidge & Associates

Ledwidge & Associates, P.C. in New York City has years of experience helping clients create estate plans that fit their needs. We have the experience and resources to handle your critical legal matters with the utmost care and attention to detail.
How to Succeed in a Kinship Hearing

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