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How Does The New York Surrogate Court Work?

There is one Surrogate’s Court in all counties in New York, excluding Kings and New York Counties, where there are two. Surrogate courts are divided into several departments including legal, probate, guardianship, adoption, administration, accounting, small estates, and certificates. Typically, the legal department conducts litigation proceedings for cases pertaining to:

  • probate of wills and estate
  • Guardianship of properties belonging to minors
  • Decedent affairs and administration of estates
  • Miscellaneous cases that are not exclusive to the Supreme Court

Other departments perform administrative functions outside trials and in-court processes. The Judge of a Surrogate Court is designated and styled the “Surrogate”. The Surrogate governs and presides over the administrative and legal arms of the court. The Surrogate authorizes the chief court attorney and the chief clerk to supervise and maintain the legal department and executive departments’ records, respectively. The chief court attorney oversees hearings, trials, motions, decrees, orders, disclosure supervision, conferencing, and many other legal matters within the court’s jurisdiction.

Obligated by law, the Surrogate presides over major trusts and estate matters requiring jury trials and bench trials. Even then, the surrogate is empowered to assign attorneys to hear designated trials and hearings, and in special circumstances, supervise disclosure, trust, and estate administrations.

Under the capacity vested on Surrogates by the Surrogate Court Procedure Act (SCPA), they can appoint referees and receivers to preside over complicated and time-consuming matters such as disclosures. Referees may be the attorney’s on the court staff or “outside attorneys” admitted to practice law in New York. Such outside attorneys may include but are not limited to, retired surrogates, retired judges of other courts, or attorneys with satisfactory courtroom experience on intricate estate matters.

Pursuant to SCPA §506(1), surrogates are not allowed to appoint referees in cases where a right to a jury trial exists and is demanded. Cases where the right to a jury trial exists in Surrogate practice, can include discovery proceedings, probate cases, and inter vivos trust validity proceedings. For the most part, these cases may be allotted to referees if involved parties did not request jury trials.

According to SCPA §102, surrogates may appoint receivers to take and hold conflicted real estate properties perceived to be in jeopardy. Simply put, the court may approve and assign a receiver where there is a danger that a trust or estate property suffers the risk of removal, material injury, or destruction.

Although the state constitution does not expressly require surrogates to be a separately elected position, some of them are selected following contested partisan elections. In counties where they are not distinctly elected, county court judges will also serve as surrogates while still discharging their designated duties in the county court.

Elected surrogates serve a 14-year term within the five counties of New York City. They are elected every 10 years in 57 other counties. Aspirants must be county residents and are subject to retirement at the end of the calendar year in which they had their 70th birthday.

To a large extent, probate or surrogate court records are public records. The only exception is adoption records, which are sealed. To search for, and obtain surrogate court records, requesters are required to visit or send a mail to the applicable court’s record room. While these records may be searched for free, requesters are expected to pay copy fees as well as certification or exemplification fees. They may also need to schedule an appointment with the applicable court clerk to view the records. Listed below are the physical locations and contact addresses of all Surrogate Courts in New York:

Albany County
Albany County Surrogate Court
16 Eagle Street, Room 123
Albany, NY 12207
Phone: (518) 285–8585
Fax: (518) 285–8237

Allegany County
Allegany County Surrogate Court
Allegany County Courthouse
7 Court Street
Belmont, NY 14813
Phone: (585) 449–3464
Fax: (585) 449–3471

Bronx County
Bronx County Surrogate Court
851 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10451
Phone: (718) 618–2300
Fax: (718) 537–5158

Broome County
Broome County Surrogate Court
92 Court Street
P.O. Box 1766
Binghamton, NY 13902
Phone: (607) 240–5789
Fax: (917) 522–3480

Cattaraugus County
Cattaraugus County Surrogate Court
303 Court Street
Little Valley, NY 14755
Phone: (716) 379–6637
Fax: (716) 938–6983

Cayuga County
Cayuga County Surrogate Court
152 Genesee Street
Auburn, NY 13021
Phone: (315) 237–6210
Fax: (315) 237–6211

Chautauqua County
Chautauqua County Surrogate Court
3 North Erie Street
P.O. Box C
Mayville, NY 14757
Phone: (716) 753–4339
Fax: (716) 753–4600

Chemung County
Chemung County Surrogate Court
Hazlett Building
203–205 Lake Street
P.O. Box 588
Elmira, NY 14902
Phone: (607) 873–9440
Fax: (646) 963–6606

Chenango County
Chenango County Surrogate Court
13 Eaton Avenue
Norwich, NY 13815
Phone: (607) 337–1827
Fax: (646) 963–6603

Clinton County
Clinton County Surrogate Court
137 Margaret Street
Plattsburgh, NY 12901
Phone: (518) 536–3830

Columbia County
Columbia Surrogate Court
401 Union Street
Hudson, NY 12534
Phone: (518) 267–3150
Fax: (518) 267–3126

Cortland County
Cortland County Surrogate Court
46 Greenbush Street, Suite 303
Cortland, NY 13045
Phone: (607) 218–3335
Fax: (212) 457–2661

Delaware County
Delaware County Surrogate Court
3 Court Street
Delhi, NY 13753
Phone: (607) 376–5405
Fax: (646) 963–6403

Dutchess County
Dutchess County Surrogate Court
10 Market Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Phone: (845) 431–1770
Fax: (845) 476–3659

Erie County
Erie County Surrogate Court
92 Franklin Street
Buffalo, NY 14202
Phone: (716) (845) 2560
Fax: (716) (845) 7565

Essex County
Essex County Surrogate Court
7559 Court Street
P.O. Box 217
Elizabethtown, NY 12932
Phone: (518) 873–3384
Fax: (518) 451–8740

Franklin County
Franklin County Surrogate Court
355 West Main Street
Malone, NY 12953
Phone: (518) 353–7350

Fulton County
Fulton County Surrogate Court
223 West Main Street
Johnstown, NY 12095
Phone: (518) 736–5697
Fax: (518) 762–6372

Genesee County
Genesee County Surrogate Court
1 West Main Street
Batavia, NY 14020
Phone: (585) 815–7817
Fax: (585) 344–8517

Greene County
Greene County Surrogate Court
320 Main Street
Catskill, NY 12414
Phone: (518) 625–3150
Fax: (518) 625–3176

Hamilton County
Hamilton County Surrogate Court - Court Office
139 White Birch Lane
P.O. Box 780
Indian Lake, NY 12842
Phone: (518) 648–5411
Fax: (518) 453–8687

Hamilton County Surrogate Court - Courthouse
102 County View Drive
Lake Pleasant, NY 12108
Phone: (518) 548–3211
Fax: (518) 453–8687

Herkimer County
Herkimer County Surrogate Court
301 North Washington Street
Herkimer, NY 13350
Phone: (315) 619–3400
Fax: (315) 266–4696

Jefferson County
Jefferson County Surrogate Court
163 Arsenal Street
Watertown, NY 13601
Phone: (315) 785–3019
Fax: (315) 785–5194

Kings County
Kings County Surrogate Court
2 Johnson Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Phone: 347–404–9700
Fax: (718) 643–6237

Livingston County
Livingston County Surrogate Court
2 Court Street
Geneseo, NY 14454
Phone: (585) 371–3921
Fax: (585) 371–3936

Madison County
Madison County Surrogate Court
138 North Court Street
P.O. Box 607
Wampsville, NY 13163
Phone: (315) 231–5321
Fax: (646) 963–6594

Monroe County
Monroe County Surrogate Court
Hall of Justice
99 Exchange Blvd, Room 541
Rochester, NY 14614
Phone: (585) 371–3310
Fax: (585) 371–3313

Montgomery County
Montgomery County Surrogate Court
58 Broadway
P.O. Box 1500
Fonda, NY 12068
Phone: (518) 853–8108
Fax: (518) 853–8230

Nassau County
Nassau County Surrogate Court
262 Old Country Road
Mineola, NY 11501
Phone: 516–493–3800

New York County
New York County Surrogate Court
31 Chambers Street
New York, NY 10007
Phone: (646) 386–5000
Fax: (212) 374–3250

Niagara County
Niagara County Surrogate Court
Niagara County Courthouse
175 Hawley Street
Lockport, NY 14094
Phone: (716) 280–6460
Fax: (716) 280–6480

Oneida County
Oneida County Surrogate Court
Oneida County Office Building
800 Park Avenue
Utica, NY 13501
Phone: (315) 266–4550
Fax: (315) 266–4703

Onondaga County
Onondaga County Surrogate Court
Onondaga County Courthouse
401 Montgomery Street
Syracuse, NY 13202
Phone: (315) 671–2100
Fax: (315) 671–1162

Ontario County
Ontario County Surrogate Court
27 North Main Street
Canandaigua, NY 14424
Phone: (585) 412–5301
Fax: (585) 412–5331

Orange County
Orange County Surrogate Court
30 Park Place
Goshen, NY 10924
Phone: (845) 476–3655
Fax: (845) 291–2196

Orleans County
Orleans County Surrogate Court
1 South Main Street, Suite 3
Albion, NY 14411
Phone: (585) 283–6658
Fax: (585) 371–3964

Oswego County
Oswego County Surrogate Court
Oswego County Courthouse
25 East Oneida Street
Oswego, NY 13126
Phone: (315) 207–7566
Fax: (315) 266–4784

Putnam County
Putnam County Surrogate Court
44 Gleneida Avenue
Carmel, NY 10512
Phone: (845) 208–7860
Fax: (845) 431–1936

Queens County Surrogate Court
88–11 Sutphin Blvd
Jamaica, NY 11435
Phone: (718) 298–0400

Rensselaer County Surrogate Court
80 Second Street
Troy, NY 12180
Phone: (518) 285–6100
Fax: (518) 272–5452

Richmond County Surrogate Court
18 Richmond Terrace
Staten Island, NY 10301
Phone: (718) 675–8500
Fax: (718) 390–8741

Rockland County
Rockland County Surrogate Court
1 South Main Street
New City, NY 10956
Phone: (845) 483–8260
Fax: (845) 638–5632

Saratoga County Surrogate Court
30 McMaster Street
Ballston Spa, NY 12020
Phone: (518) 451–8830
Fax: (518) 453–8693

Schenectady County Surrogate Court
612 State Street
Schenectady, NY 12305
Phone: (518) 285–8455
Fax: (518) 451–8732

Schoharie County Surrogate Court
Schoharie County Courthouse
290 Main Street
P.O. Box 669
Schoharie, NY 12157
Phone: (518) 295–8383
Fax: (518) 295–8451

Schuyler County Surrogate Court
Schuyler County Courthouse
105 9th Street, Unit 35
Watkins Glen, NY 14891
Phone: (607) 535–7144
Fax: (646) 963–6590

Seneca County Surrogate Court
48 West Williams Street
Waterloo, NY 13165
Phone: (315) 835–6232
Fax: (315) 835–6234

St. Lawrence County Surrogate Court
St. Lawrence County Courthouse
48 Court Street
Canton, NY 13617
Phone: (315) 379–2217
Fax: (315) 379–2372

Steuben County
Steuben County Surrogate Court
3 East Pulteney Square
Bath, NY 14810
Phone: (607) 622–8221
Fax: (607) 622–8243

Suffolk County
Suffolk County Surrogate Court
320 Center Drive
Riverhead, NY 11901
Phone: 631–852–1746
Fax: 631–852–1777

Sullivan County
Sullivan County Surrogate Court
Sullivan County Government Center
100 North Street
Monticello, NY 12701
Phone: (845) 791–3500
Fax: (845) 481–9337

Tioga County
Tioga County Surrogate Court
20 Court Street
P.O. Box 10
Owego, NY 13827
Phone: (607) 689–6099
Fax: (646) 963–6398

Tompkins County
Tompkins County Surrogate Court
320 North Tioga Street
P.O. Box 70
Ithaca, NY 14851
Phone: (607) 216–6655
Fax: (212) 457–2952

Ulster County
Ulster County Surrogate Court
240 Fair Street
Kingston, NY 12401
Phone: (845) 481–9338
Fax: (845) 483–8427

Warren County
Warren County Surrogate Court
1340 State Route 9
Lake George, NY 12845
Phone: (518) 761–6514
Fax: (518) 761–6511

Washington County
Washington County Surrogate Court
383 Broadway
Fort Edward, NY 12828
Phone: (518) 746–2545
Fax: (518) 746–2547

Wayne County
Wayne County Surrogate Court
54 Broad Street
Lyons, NY 14489
Phone: (315) 665–8119
Fax: (315) 665–8110

Westchester County
Westchester County Surrogate Court
111 Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
White Plains, NY 10601
Phone: (914) 824–5656
Fax: (914) 358–8042

Wyoming County
Wyoming County Surrogate Court
147 North Main Street
Warsaw, NY 14569
Phone: (585) 228–3217
Fax: (585) 228–3230

Yates County
Yates County Surrogate Court
415 Liberty Street
Penn Yan, NY 14527
Phone: (315) 835–6321
Fax: (315) 835–6322

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