When a person dies without a Last Will he is deemed to have died intestate. In cases of intestacy there are numerous facts that must be considered in connection with the appointment of an estate administrator and the settlement of a decedent’s estate. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published many articles regarding intestate estates.
At the outset, information regarding the decedent’s next of kin or kinship must be determined. The identity of the decedent’s kinship is needed in order to select the proper person to petition the Surrogate’s Court for Letters of Administration. Kinship will also provide the identity of the persons who are entitled to inherit the estate assets. Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) Section 4-1.1 entitled “Descent and distribution of a decedent’s estate” provides the list of priority for inheritance. The decedent’s spouse and children have first priority to inherit.New York Estate attorneys are familiar with problems that can arise when attempting to ascertain a decedent’s kinship. The family members may have not kept in touch for decades and may be located in other states or countries. The Blog has also discussed the procedures involved in Kinship Hearings.
Unlike a probate proceeding where the Court typically appoints an Executor who is designated in a Last Will, where there is an intestacy, the Court appoints an Estate Administrator. The persons who are eligible to be appointed as Administrator are usually the decedent’s next of kin. Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) Section 1001 entitled “Order of priority for granting letters of administration” provides the list of those individuals who have the right to be appointed as the Administrator.
The powers of Executors and Administrators with regard to estate settlement are essentially the same. However, one important aspect of intestate estates is that the Surrogate’s Court usually requires that the proposed Administrator obtain a Surety Bond. The Bond is needed to ensure against any misappropriations or improper acts by the fiduciary. It protects the interests of the estate creditors and beneficiaries. The proposed Administrator usually needs a good personal credit rating to obtain a Bond.
There are many complex issues that can arise in intestate estates regarding the appointment of an Administrator and the settlement of the estate. I have represented clients in many Administration cases throughout the New York area. Call me now for a free discussion if you have a question or issue regarding estate administration or probate.
New York Trusts and Estates Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 30 years resolve issues relating to probate and estate settlement throughout New York City including Manhattan and Brooklyn. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial consultation.