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Kinship Hearings

You may be an heir or distributes of an estate, but you may still be called upon to prove your relationship to the decedent before you get your inheritance.

The process by which you establish that you are related to the decedent is known as a Kinship Hearing. The hearing is held in the Surrogate’s Court and testimony is taken under oath.
The hearing may be held before a judge or a court attorney depending upon the county in which the hearing is held. Other parties that may be present include the attorney for the public administrator, a representative of the State Attorney General’s office and one or more Guardians Ad Litem. Regular rules of evidence apply at a kinship hearing, and the hearing may be held over several days depending upon the complexity of the case. Our attorneys are not only trained in handling simple estate probate matters, we take care of complex estate litigation in the event of probate, a will contest or kinship hearing in Nassau County, Suffolk County, Queens County, Bronx, Westchester, Richmond County, Manhattan and Brooklyn Kings County New York.

Kinship hearings are often complicated and confusing.

A kinship hearing may seem as simple as going to court and testifying as to how you are related to the decedent, often you may be precluded from doing so by the “dead man’s statute.” You need the New York kinship hearing attorneys at Castiglia-Rubinstein & Associates on your side to make sure that you get what is rightfully yours.

You may be required to produce disinterested witnesses who are able to testify regarding the decedent’s family tree. In addition, you will be required to produce certified documents to support the family tree such as birth certificates and death certificates.

Heirship

Kinship remains are subject to the keen’s interest to our society. This can be viewed in a recent bestseller; “In Praise of Nepotism”, which analyzes the historical, sociological and political aspects of kinship and family composition. Thousands of families have traced their genealogical roots to locate family origins. You may make use of state of the art medical technology and genetic engineering that may be on the verge of altering our traditional understanding of next of kin. When any legal issues may arise, kinship proceedings provide the set of instructions and formal mechanism to determine blood relatives and establish proof of heirship through the use of modern technologies like DNA analysis.

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Discovery

Once issue has been joined, the legal matter is traditionally referred to a referee who conducts a hearing and reports to the Surrogate’s Court for a final decision. The referee is normally a member of the Law Department, and is required to conduct the proceeding in the same manner as a court trying a closed end case issue without a jury. Initially, the referee may set up a pre-trial conference, and grant time for discovery, if necessary, and set a date for a hearing. The day of the hearing is very crucial, because all proof must be completed by the claimant within one year of that date or any and all objections will be dismissed. Often, kinship proceedings take a considerable amount of time, and may run over many months. Still, that hearing date starts the clock ticking and the time running for the one-year statute.

Manner of Proof — Testimonial Evidence

The admissibility of oral testimony offered as proof of any aspect of family relationship is subject to two severe limitations. The first, is generally referred to as the Dead Man’s Statute, is codified at CPLR 4519. It provides that a party or person interested in an event is incompetent to testify concerning any personal transaction or communication with the decedent. A kinship hearing is clearly within the parameter of events covered by the statute; the claimants or individuals seeking to inherit are clearly interested in the event because they stand to gain or lose by operation of the judgment.

Statutory Foundation for Kinship Proceedings

The framework for analyzing kinship issues is provided by the Estates Powers and Trusts Law, specifically EPTL § 4-1.1, which identifies the priorities among claimants who seek to inherit from an estate and specifies formal rules for the inheritance process.

In many kinship cases it is advisable to hire a qualified genealogist in addition to your kinship elder law and estate planning attorney.

We are dedicated to your success so contact us. Speak with one of our knowledgeable Long Island kinship hearing litigation, estate planning litigation attorneys today from wherever you are in New York in Nassau and Suffolk, Brooklyn, Kings and Queens Counties, on Long Island and all New York City boroughs including Bronx, Westchester, Richmond County, and Manhattan.

Call 1-800-960-1529 today.

Get Help With Your Estate Plan Now

Be prepared for court hearings with the right elder law attorney at Castiglia-Rubinstein and Associates.
You should know you have certain legal rights and must be very selective of the Lawyer or Law Firm that you chose to represent you.

Have an Attorney council you on the Right Decision for You.

Trust vs WillsRemoval of a Trustee * Guardianship * Probate * Beneficiary Rights
Medicaid Asset Protection * Probate Litigation * Estate Litigation * Living Trusts
In Home Care * Supplemental Needs Trusts  * Fraudulent Transfers

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