What Does "Judicial Settlement" Mean In Regards To New York Estate Law?

Definition of JUDICIAL SETTLEMENT
(noun): A proceeding whereby the account of a fiduciary is settled and adjudicated by decree of the court (SCPA 103 [29])

Plain English translation: Judicial settlement is the Surrogate’s approval of everything the fiduciary (e.g. executor or administrator) has done on behalf of the estate.

During the final stage of the administration of an estate, an estate fiduciary may ask the Surrogate’s Court to approve the fiduciary’s actions: what has been collected, what has been paid out, and how the balance is to be distributed. This is referred to as an accounting proceeding. The Surrogate’s Court will issue a decree when the Court determines that the fiduciary’s account of his or her actions is acceptable.

Example: Jacy filed her final accounting for her mother’s estate with the Court. The Court approved her accounting and issued a decree. Jacy’s accounting of her actions on behalf of her mother’s estate has been judicially settled.

There is a voluntary accounting, where the fiduciary chooses to start the proceeding. And there is a compulsory accounting, where another party seeks the accounting or the Surrogate’s Court compels it.

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Daniel R. Antonelli
Representing trust & estate clients with an emphasis on estate litigation in the New York City Metro Area.