Estate Administration During COVID– Phased Operations for New York Courts

Dear Clients,

The coronavirus outbreak is continuing to put stress on New York’s judicial system, creating a backlog of pending cases and forcing long delays in many proceedings including those of estate administration. Estate administration includes the legal process of probate, the court-supervised process of validating a last will and testament if the deceased prepared one. This process is required for many estates in New York and is used by the probate court to ensure the deceased assets are distributed in the manner they desire.  The process also helps to ensure the person’s creditors are paid through estate settlement in a manner according to law.

If you are responsible for settling the estate of a deceased family member or friend, now or in the near future, you should know that the Unified Court System has extended in-person operations across the State in accordance with the 4-Phase reopening plan of the public and private sector in New York State. While all New York courts are now in Phase 4, in past weeks, operations have slowed down due to increasing numbers of Covid-19 positive employees.  A change in the operation phase may occur at any time due to escalating coronavirus cases. According to NYCourts.gov the phases of operation are as follows:

Description of Phased Operations for New York Courts

PHASE ONE:

  • Judges and their staffs will return to courthouses. and will conduct virtual proceedings from chambers. 
  • Additional, but not all, other court personnel will return to in-person service in the courthouses.
  • in order to minimize foot traffic in the courts, for health and safety reasons, courts and parties continue to be encouraged to conduct proceedings virtually.

PHASE TWO:

  • Essential family matters are conducted in person and heard by the assigned judge
  • Criminal, juvenile delinquency, and mental hygiene law proceedings pertaining to a hospitalized adult are held virtually and heard by the assigned judge
  • Non-essential matters will continue to be held virtually and heard by the assigned judge
  • Mediations and other forms of alternate dispute resolution are conducted virtually

PHASE THREE:
In addition to Phase Two operations, in Phase Three, in-person matters expanded to include:

  • child support proceedings
  • arraignments of defendants who have been issued desk appearance tickets
  • preliminary hearings in criminal cases for defendants being held in jail on felony complaints
  • selected plea and sentencing proceedings for defendants at liberty
  • a limited number of bench trials, in civil matters 

In New York City only:

  • in-court conferences of felony cases for defendants at liberty
  • where an in-person proceeding involves an incarcerated individual, that individual appears virtually, unless otherwise ordered by the assigned judge

PHASE FOUR:
In addition to Phase Three matters, Phase Four expands in-person matters to include:

  • Jury trials: for civil matters; effective on or about October 5, 2020; criminal matters, on or about November 2, 2020 (starting in September 2020, a number of counties outside New York City have begun piloting criminal and civil jury trials)
  • child permanency hearings
  • superior civil court appearances where at least one party is self-represented
  • small claims matters filed prior to April 1, 2020
  • Grand Jury proceedings commenced on July 13, 2020, in counties outside of New York City; and effective August 10, 2020, in New York City

Parisi, Coan & Saccocio, PLLC remains dedicated to protecting your rights and pursuing the best legal outcome for your situation. For your peace of mind during the continued Covid-19 crisis, our team continues to advise clients and can manage most trust and estate issues and communications via phone, email, and video conferencing. If you have any questions or would like more information, contact us at (518) 377 – 9096 or via our website www.pcslawnyc.com.

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