March 20, 2020 – Executive Order No. 202.8. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signs an Executive Order which imposes changes to the operation of “statute of limitations”, which are the deadlines by which one must commence an action or proceeding.
What this means for you?
Court proceedings are usually time sensitive. Suspending the course of a fixed period of time for commencing, filing of or service of any legal action, including time limits in the Surrogates Court Procedure Act.
How is this a problem?
Other than for matters to be delayed (which at present cannot be avoided), this measure is a necessary one designed to prevent people from suffering from unjust forfeiture.
Why is this Executive Order important?
I think the best way to explain this is through a real-life example. I have a client who is an executor for an estate. There is a beneficiary in the estate who does not want to receive a share of an estate under a Will as it will unnecessarily result in impacting her own tax position. The beneficiary must therefore file papers with Surrogate’s Court that will result in her formally rejecting her inheritance (and prevent her from facing tax consequences!). According to the law, the beneficiary only has 9 months from the date of the death to file the papers… otherwise, she is out of luck. Would it be fair to the beneficiary if the deadline clock kept ticking, and there was nothing she could do about it because the local Surrogate’s Court is closed for the foreseeable future? Clearly, no.
This is one example of how this Executive Order is important for trust and estate clients in preventing an unjust forfeiture.