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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

PO 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

PO 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

PO 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

PO 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

PO 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

PO 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

PO 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

PO 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

PO Box 10

Owego, NY 13827

Phone: (607) 689–6099

Fax: (646) 963–6398

Tompkins County

Tompkins County Surrogate Court

320 North Tioga Street

PO 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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