How to Obtain Information About an Estate Pursuant to SCPA 2102
There are times when an executor, administrator, or Trustee refuses to provide information about the Trust or Estate. Luckily, there are ways to obtain information about an estate. In New York, a beneficiary can obtain information about an estate by using the remedies available in SCPA 2102(1).
What is SCPA 2102?
SCPA 2102 is an amalgam of proceedings to obtain relief against a fiduciary. One of the most commonly used portions of SCPA 2102 is SCPA 2102(1). A proceeding may be commenced to require a fiduciary to supply information concerning the assets or affairs of an estate relevant to the interest of the petitioner when the fiduciary has failed after request made upon him in writing. This means that if you are a beneficiary under a Will or a Trust, or if you are entitled to a piece of the estate, then you can ask the Trustee, Executor, or Administrator to provide information to you. If the fiduciary refuses to provide information, then you can ask the Court to Order the fiduciary to provide information to you about the Trust or the estate. The only caveat to requesting information is that it must be related to your share of the estate. Thus, for example, if you are only entitled to $10,000 under a Will, you will not likely be able to obtain information about the entire estate. You will only be able to obtain information sufficient to show that your specific bequest is available. Conversely, if you are entitled to a sizable share of an estate, then you will be able to obtain information about the entire estate.
What Kind of Information Can I Obtain?
You can obtain information about an estate relative to your interest therein. If you are entitled to a house, then you can obtain information about the status of the house. If you are entitled to money, then you can obtain information about the money that has come into the hands of the fiduciary and the amounts that have been spent.
What Should I do before filing a Petition to Obtain Information About an Estate Pursuant to SCPA 2102?
Before filing a petition with the Court to obtain information about an estate, you should write a letter to the fiduciary, requesting the information. The letter should specifically state what information you are looking for. For example, if you want to know the income and expenses, don’t be afraid to ask for the rent roll on the properties or the bank accounts as well as copies of the receipts. The letter should be addressed to the fiduciary of the estate and should be sent in a way that the receipt of the letter can be tracked. Remember that you do not need to ask for an accounting of the assets. You are just asking for information. If you request an accounting that will be a different proceeding. There are pros and cons to compelling an accounting versus compelling information.
How do I Prepare to File a Petition to Obtain Information About an Estate Pursuant to SCPA 2102?
If you have sent a demand letter and have not received a response, you can file a petition with the Court. You can request an Order from the Court that the fiduciary be required to provide the information within a certain number of days. In your Petition, you have to explain who you are, what information you are trying to obtain, why you are entitled to it, what you need the information for, and why the fiduciary has not provided it.
In addition to the Petition with exhibits (including that demand letter that you should have sent the fiduciary before you started writing the Petition), you have to prepare an Order to Show Cause if you are seeking immediate and potentially injunctive relief, such as a temporary restraining order. If you are not seeking immediate relief, then you will need a Citation, instead of an Order to Show Cause. You should contact the county where you will file the papers, out of an abundance of caution to determine whether any other documents are necessary.
What Happens after I file my Petition to Obtain Information About an Estate Pursuant to SCPA 2102?
After you file the Petition with the Order to Show Cause or Citation and pay the fee, the Court will review it to determine whether it should be entertained. If the Petition is entertained, then you will receive a signed Citation or a signed Order to Show Cause with instructions on how to serve the papers upon the fiduciary. Following the Court date, there is typically a Court conference at which time an agreement is entered into as to when the information will be provided. In the absence of an agreement, the Court will Order the production of information.
We can help you compel obtain information about an estate pursuant to SCPA 2102. Contact us to learn more.
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