New York estates face many issues following the death of the decedent. These issues include a determination of the decedent's assets as well as debts and liabilities. Executors and Administrators have a fiduciary duty to investigate and determine the decedent's rights and obligations and protect the estate's interests in this regard.
One example of an issue that may face a New York fiduciary relates to the estate's right to maintain a decedent's rental apartment following death. An estate's interest in a rental apartment was presented recently in Renaissance Equity Holdings LLC v. Doe, New York City Civil Court, Kings County (New York Law Journal dated July 21, 2010 at page 26). In Renaissance, the landlord had commenced a summary holdover proceeding against the decedent's daughter. The decedent was the tenant of a rent stabilized apartment. In dismissing the landlord's petition, Judge Marc Finkelstein first recognized that the decedent's lease did not end upon death and that his estate was entitled to remain in possession until the current lease term ended. Judge Finkelstein also found that the landlord failed to include the estate as a party to the eviction proceeding. Therefore, the Judge dismissed the eviction case without prejudice due to the failure of the landlord to include the estate as a party to the proceeding.
While Renaissance is not a landmark decision, it is a good example of the many types of problems encountered by fiduciaries in performing their job. As shown by this case, defending the estate's interest in a landlord-tenant summary proceeding may be required.