King’s County Surrogate’s Court Judge Suspended

New York Probate attorney Robert Friedman discusses the serious backlog of cases in Kings County (Brooklyn) Surrogate Court. 

Good Morning. I am Bob Friedman. Welcome to the December 20. 2021 edition of the Legal Survival Channel: Today’s Legal News You Can Use.

As a New York probate attorney, I have been hearing from my fellow probate attorneys and clients about the serious backlog of estate cases in Kings County Surrogate’s Court.

Based on serious allegations of bias and discrimination, confirmed by an investigation by the New York Inspector General, King’s County (Brooklyn)Surrogate Court Judge Harriet Thompson has been suspended from handling cases, effective December 17, 2021. This matter has been referred to the State Commission on Judicial Conduct for further action. She has been relieved of her judicial duties, her case inventory has been reassigned, and she has been barred from any non-public areas of the courthouse, including her chambers.

Surrogate Thompson stopped the issuance of citations at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and limited her case load to emergency matters only. Effective October 26, 2021, she once again began issuing Administration, Probate, Miscellaneous, Accounting and Guardianship citations . These citations were applicable only to those petitions for Brooklyn residents who have died in the months of February, April, June, August, October and December (even months of death).

Citations are legal notices that put necessary parties under a surrogate’s jurisdiction. Trust and estates attorneys expressed concerns over a mounting caseload in her court. Without citations being issued by Thompson, cases are being seriously backlogged and executors can’t get appointed for an estate. Therefore, executors cannot perform their duties, such as selling real estate, paying bills, accessing bank accounts, evicting tenants, collecting debts owed to the decedent and distributing money to beneficiaries.

For assistance with New York estate administration, contact Probate Attorney, Robert Friedman Buffalo Attorney at (585) 484-7432.

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