Getting Surrogate's Court Records
Your lawblogger frequently gets questions about how to obtain records of an estate. The Surrogate's Court is a court of public record and every document filed is available to anyone. You can get copies of the entire estate of your Aunt Minnie who died in 1912 if that is what you would like. The difficulty is that every one of the state's 62 Surrogate's Courts has its own procedures as to how to do this. The New York County Surrogate's Court has recently circulated a memo as to how to obtain its records which you can seehere. As this notice mentions, it is necessary to check with the clerk of the court in the county where the records you are seeking are kept, information available from the link contained in the memo.The clerk will inform you of the procedures his or her court has for either coming to court to retrieve the records or of having them sent to you.
Keep in mind that this means that once an estate is filed there are no secrets. If you think you are not getting all the information you should have, get the estate file from the court clerk and bring a copy to your lawyer who can explain your options to you.