One of the many purposes of New York Surrogate's Court is to provide for the transfer of property of a deceased person.
"The court shall continue to exercise full and complete general jurisdiction in law and in equity to administer justice in all matters relating to estates and the affairs of decedents, and upon the return of any process to try and determine all questions, legal or equitable, arising between any or all of the parties to any action or proceeding, or between any party and any other person having any claim or interest therein, over whom jurisdiction has been obtained as to any and all matters necessary to be determined in order to make a full, equitable and complete disposition of the matter by such order or decree as justice requires."
If a person dies owning real property (land or buildings) and only his/her name appears on the title, then it is most likely a Surrogate's Court matter.
If a person dies owning no real property just personal property, and the value of that personal property does not exceed [$50,000], then a formal Surrogate's Court petition may not be necessary. The property can possibly be transferred as a Small Estate.
"A small estate is the estate of a domiciliary or a non-domiciliary who dies leaving personal property having a gross value of [$50,000] or less exclusive of property required to be set off under EPTL 5-3.1(a)(1), (2), (3), (4) and (5)."
If a person dies leaving a surviving spouse and/or a child under the age of 21, then there is a list of property in SCPA 5-3.1 that is exempt for the benefit of the family and not considered as assets of the estate for a Surrogate's Court petition.
Check with an attorney for help with your small estate and Surrogate's Court questions.