A New York Estate May Have Out-of-State Assets – Some Insights

shutterstock_330039464-300x200A person who is a New York domiciliary typically has his estate administrated in the County Surrogate’s Court where he maintained his home.  Domicile is a person’s primary home as opposed to numerous residences which may be used.

Whether a New York decedent has a probate estate or dies intestate without a Will, primary estate proceedings are filed in New York.  However, it is not uncommon for a decedent to own various forms of property outside of New York.  Administering such assets may be complicated and challenging.

Where an administrator or executor is appointed in New York, such fiduciary generally has the authority to access and collect all of the decedent’s personal property.  For example, the New York executor should have no problem collecting bank accounts or other similar assets that are held in financial institutions in different states such as California.  These institutions may require certain forms and certified documents to be presented but will recognize the authority of the New York fiduciary to close and collect accounts.

An important point to recognize is that the authority of a New York fiduciary does not include the right to transfer real estate that is located outside of New York either in a different state or country.  In order for the fiduciary to sell or otherwise transfer out-of-state real property, the fiduciary must obtain a new and separate appointment in the foreign jurisdiction.

Such appointment is known as an ancillary appointment.  Letters of appointment must be applied for such as ancillary letters testamentary in the case of a Will and ancillary letters of administration when there is intestacy.  To obtain ancillary authority, a new proceeding must be filed in the Courts where the real property is located.  While the ancillary process is typically less complicated than the original appointment proceeding, numerous documents and court papers are typically required.  For instance, Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act section 1602 entitled “Ancillary probate based upon domiciliary probate” provides for ancillary probate in New York of a foreign Will.

With regard to personal property such as financial accounts, if these assets are located in a foreign country, the foreign institution may not recognize the authority of the New York fiduciary in any respect and may also require that some type of ancillary proceeding be filed to allow for local authority to collect assets.

It is always important when engaging in estate planning to recognize and understand the nature of a person’s assets so that any complexities regarding post-death administration are considered and possibly avoided.  I have represented many estates where foreign assets were involved and ancillary proceedings needed to be initiated.  Also there have been numerous cases where I have filed ancillary proceedings in New York for foreign fiduciaries.  Call Me Now for a free confidential review of your estate administration issue.  We provide reasonable and flexible fee arrangements and personal representation.

New York Trusts and Estates Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 40 years resolve issues relating to guardianship and probate and estate settlement throughout New York City including the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Nassau and Suffolk County.  If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial free consultation.

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