The administration of a New York estate typically is comprised of three stages. The first stage involves the appointment of an estate fiduciary such as an Administrator when the decedent dies intestate or an Executor when there is a Last Will and Testament. In most cases this stage is uneventful and after a complete petition and supporting papers are filed with the Court the fiduciary is appointed. Sometimes, there is estate litigation concerning a contested Will or the appropriate person to be appointed as Administrator. Kinships may also be an issue.
Stage two of an estate involves the collection of assets and the payment or settlement of claims and estate obligations. Surrogate’s Court litigation may also be needed here if there are disputed issues regarding estate liabilities and the ownership of assets. An estate executor or administrator has a fiduciary obligation to collect and protect the estate assets. Creditor’s claims and tax issues can complicate the finalization of the decedent’s affairs.
In the third and final stage, the estate fiduciary is ready to distribute the net assets to the beneficiaries. The fiduciary usually prepares an Accounting. This document contains detailed information as to all of the estate assets and income collected as well as all of the expenses and other items paid from the estate. The accounting will set forth various unpaid items to be paid such as fiduciary commissions and attorneys or accountant fees. It may also contain proposals for the manner in which the net estate is to be distributed by providing a final calculation of each beneficiary’s interest.