The process of administering an estate can be very complex. Estate Lawyers are familiar with the many issues and obligations that an Executor or Administrator may need to consider. As discussed in numerous posts in the New York Probate Lawyer Blog, an estate fiduciary has the obligation to find and collect all of the estate assets. Estates, Powers and Trusts Law Section 11-1.1 entitled “Fiduciary powers” sets forth the tasks that a fiduciary can perform including collecting and investing assets.
Sometimes it is not easy to determine and access property that is owned by a decedent. There are many cases where a person prepares a Last Will but places assets into joint ownership. Such joint ownership property is not controlled by the Will provisions. The joint assets are transferred to the surviving joint owner upon the decedent’s death notwithstanding contrary provisions in a Last Will. Generally, only assets that are titled in the decedent’s name alone end up being controlled by a Will. It is not uncommon to find out after a decedent dies that shortly before death, many assets were transferred to joint accounts and, therefore, pass to owners outside of the controlling Will provisions. Continue reading