A New York Executor or Administrator has many duties and obligations. Among these matters is the necessity to identify, protect and collect estate assets. The many powers granted to a fiduciary are set forth in Estates, Powers and Trusts Law Section 11-1.1 entitled “Fiduciaries’ powers.”
While collecting assets such as bank accounts and mutual funds is typically routine, there are many situations where asset collection can be difficult and time consuming. For example, there are many cases where a decedent owned real estate such as a single or multi-family property. Very often, in order to provide liquidity to satisfy estate debts such as a mortgage or to allow for distributions to a number of beneficiaries, the real property must be sold. However, there are circumstances which can interfere with a property sale. The property may be occupied by relatives or third parties who refuse to vacate. This situation can result in potential damage to the property or a diminution in the value of a sale. Sometimes real estate cannot be sold at all unless it is vacant. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog contains many articles discussing the issues associated with estate real estate.
In other cases, property that may be owned by a decedent is held in the name of another party. These matters necessitate Surrogate’s Court proceedings whereby the administrator or executor initiates proceedings in the Surrogate’s Court to obtain the turnover of the claimed property to the estate. SCPA Section 2103 entitled “Proceeding by fiduciary to discover property withheld or obtain information,” provides the procedure to discover and enforce title to assets to which an estate claims ownership.