You may be an heir or distributee of an estate, but you may still be called upon
to prove your relationship to the decedent before you get your inheritance.
The process by which you establish that you are related to the decedent is known
as a Kinship Hearing. The hearing is held in the Surrogate's Court and testimony
is taken under oath.
The hearing may be held before a judge or a court attorney depending upon the county
in which the hearing is held. Other parties that may be present include the attorney
for the public administrator, a representative of the State Attorney General's office
and one or more Guardians ad Litem. Regular rules of evidence apply at a kinship
hearing, and the hearing my be held over several days depending upon the complexity
of the case.
Kinship hearings are often complicated and confusing. Although it may seem as simple
as going to court and testifying as to how you are related to the decedent, often
you may be precluded from doing so by the "dead man's statute." You need a New York
kinship hearing attorney on your side to make sure you get what is rightfully yours.
You may be required to produce disinterested witnesses who are able to testify regarding
the decedent's family tree. In addition, you will be required to produce certified
documents to support the family tree such as birth certificates and death certificates.
In certain cases it is advisable to hire a qualified genealogist in addition to your
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This chart displays the relationships between relatives.