Surrogate's Court - Notice to Self-Represented Litigants

Notice to Self-Represented Litigants

The Onondaga County Surrogate’s Court, under the leadership of the Honorable Mary Keib Smith, Surrogate of Onondaga County, insures that self-represented litigants have clear and unencumbered access to the Onondaga County Surrogate’s Court.

This office provides basic information to self-represented litigants on procedural matters, court rules and statutes. Some forms, instructions and informational brochures are also available. Court personnel may provide information or explain court procedures and policies. Forms can also be found in the Onondaga County Supreme Court Library located on the 4th floor of the Onondaga County Courthouse and on the website provided below.

Court personnel cannot advise a litigant whether to start a case, recommend which process or procedure to use or do legal research for litigants, self-represented or otherwise; nor can they assist you in filling out these forms and may not advise you as to wording or legal sufficiency. You must do your own legal research to determine the legal content of the forms. Onondaga County Supreme Court librarians may assist you in researching the procedures, statutes and legal definitions; however, they also may not provide you with legal advice.

You may be eligible to receive free legal assistance through the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County, Inc. Surrogate’s Court Clinic. The Clinic is open every Wednesday (except on holidays) from 11:00 am - 1:00pm. Walk-ins are welcome; however, those with appointments will be given priority. Appointments may be made by calling the Clinic directly (any weekday) at (315) 579-2579. If no one is available to take your call, you may leave a message and someone will get back to you.

Another possible resource is the Central New York Legal HelpLine, a toll free call center (1-877-777-6152 open Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m) available to persons residing (or having a legal problem) in Broome, Cayuga, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, Oswego and Otsego Counties).

In addition, the New York State Unified Court System offers a web site for frequently asked questions and Official Court Forms and may be reached at