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What is a Request For Surrogate’s Court Action?

{Read in 4 Minutes}  As a Trusts and Estates attorney, I routinely appear in Surrogate’s Court for a variety of proceedings (probate proceedings, administrative proceedings, accounting proceedings, guardianship proceedings, etc.). With the coming (and hopefully quickly going…) of COVID-19, the Surrogate’s Court has largely transitioned from paper filing to electronic filing. The court has even switched to virtual appearances in some matters, and courts across the state have largely made their records available online. With the requirement of e-filing, parties and attorneys may notice that when electronically submitting papers to the courts, for the first time, they are now asked to submit an additional form called a Request for Surrogate’s Court Action.

So, what is this form? Where can I find it? And what’s it about? 

Well, the answer is simple. The Court form is available online here. What the form is asking you to do is fill out certain basic information for the proceeding that you’re electronically filing. For example, what sort of proceeding is it? Is it a probate proceeding? Is it a voluntary administration? Is it a discovery and turnover proceeding? Is it an application by an Executor to resign, etc.?

It will also ask questions about how you are submitting the fee. For example, are you paying it with a credit card when you electronically file the proceeding? Or are you mailing a check to the Court, or are you planning to show up in Court with a wad of bills to pay filing fees? (If you actually do this, bring exact change.) And finally, it will ask for information concerning the person filing it. How can the Court contact the person if they have questions or need to submit documents, or need to send documents either by mail or by email? 

Note that people can use this form even when they’re doing something other than filing a new proceeding. For example, perhaps they are asking the Court to issue new certificates of Letters. Or perhaps they are filing a Will for safekeeping, or perhaps they want exemplified documents to bring an ancillary proceeding in another state. The form has blank lines for all of that.

As a practitioner, I must decide on when to submit this form and when I should not. In general, if a Court requires you to file this document, the e-file submission form will default to make it the first document (and if you do not submit the document, the Court will not allow you to e-file any other documents). However, not every Court requires this form, and often I will log in and see that it’s not required, in which case, I will not submit it.

I always recommend that people visit the Court’s website to see if the Court has any specific rules on electronic filing related to this form. As the Courts have transitioned from paper to e-filing in the last couple of years, most Courts have updated their websites recently to advise attorneys and members of the public about their electronic filing procedures. Being informed is always a good thing. Check out the website prior to submitting documents. For more information on this topic, please contact me.