Letter in support of proposed amendment relating to the omission or redaction of confidential personal information papers filed in Surrogate’s Court
The Trusts, Estates and Surrogate’s Court Committee (John M. Oliveri, Chair) wrote a letter in support of the Surrogate’s Court Advisory Committee’s proposed amendment to 22 NYCRR 207.64. Section 207.64 of the Uniform Rules of Surrogate’s Courts limits access to certain documents containing Confidential Personal Information (“CPI”) including: all documents in Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act Article 17 and 17-A proceedings, death certificates, tax returns, and documents containing social security numbers. Under this Section, such documents can be viewed only by persons interested in the estate or their counsel, the Public Administrator or counsel thereto, counsel for any federal, state, or local government agency, or court personnel; others can view the records upon written permission of the Surrogate or Chief Clerk. The proposed amendment seeks to balance the need for public access to records and the risk of enabling personal and financial information in court records to be utilized for identity theft or other illegal misuse. The proposal, by adopting a specific rather than broad definition of protected CPI, balances the preservation of access to information with the increasingly common misuse of CPI for identity theft. In addition to the protection of CPI, this amendment is a step toward uniformity among New York courts by utilizing similar redaction requirements to that of 202.5(e) of the Uniform Civil Rules of the Supreme and County Courts.