Articles Posted in Estate Administration

When a person dies there are many issues that can affect the settlement of his estate. Initially, it must be determined wither the decedent had executed a Last Will. If so, then a probate proceeding is to be filed in the Court. In the event the decedent died intestate (without a Last Will), then an Administration proceeding is filed.

Another primary issue that needs to be considered is whether the decedent was a domiciliary of New York. Domicile is defined in the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) Section 103(15) as a person’s principal fixed and permanent home. Domicile is important because generally the New York Courts only have jurisdiction over the estates of a person domiciled in New York at the time of death. A person may have numerous residences but he can only have one domicile. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed this issue in earlier posts. Continue reading

When a person dies without a Last Will, he is considered to have died intestate. The process to appoint a fiduciary for an intestate decedent is known as an Administration Proceeding.   At the conclusion of this type of case the Surrogate’s Court will appoint an Administrator. This is in contrast to the situation when a person dies and leaves a Last Will and the Court appoints an Executor in the Probate proceeding. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has posted many articles about Probate and Administration.

Administration proceedings can have many complex issues. The persons who are entitled to be appointed as an Administrator are set forth in Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) Section 1001. This statute provides a list of the priority for appointment as the estate fiduciary. Continue reading

Real Estate ownership by a decedent is commonplace. A person may have owned a family residence, or investment or commercial properties. Ownership interests may also appear in the form of cooperative and condominium units.

These types of assets constitute one of, if not the, most valuable estate asset. The administration and disposition of estate real estate is often the subject of controversies. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has posted many articles regarding issues concerning real estate. Continue reading

The preparation and execution of a Last Will is an important part of a person’s estate planning. A Will along with documents such as a Living Will, Health Care Proxy, Power of Attorney and Living Trust, can all be utilized to express a person’s desires and intentions regarding his property and personal affairs.

Many posts provided by the New York Probate Lawyer Blog discuss the need to expend the time and effort required to prepare and finalize a Will so that it fully provides for estate distribution. New York City Estate Administration attorneys assist clients in reviewing their assets and developing plans that most effectively reflect the client’s wishes. Continue reading

The fundamental goal of estate settlement is to collect the decedent’s assets, pay all claims and administration expenses and distribute the net estate to beneficiaries. New York estate administration attorneys help their clients accomplish these tasks. Both executors and administrators have fiduciary duties to see to it that the decedent’s affairs are properly handled.

It is not always an easy task to determine the nature of the decedent’s assets. In some cases the decedent’s records may be incomplete or unclear as to asset ownership. Other times, problems may arise due to pre-death transfers of assets or third parties trying to hide the decedent’s ownership for their own benefit. Assets may have been transferred before death to another person by the use of a power of attorney or due to undue influence. Proper estate administration requires that the estate’s interest in these items be thoroughly investigated and Court proceedings be commenced to have third parties turn over estate assets. Continue reading

There are many different types of ownership interests that a decedent may have. Prior to death, a person may have acquired real estate in the form of a single family home. Similarly an individual may have been the owner of a cooperative apartment or a condominium unit. Each of these property types are assets that a decedent’s estate may need to administer as part of estate settlement.

It is very common though, especially with New York City Estates, that a decedent was a tenant pursuant to a lease in a residential apartment at the time of death. In these situations, the decedent’s family, or executor or administrator must understand various rules that effect the estate’s interest in the rental apartment. Continue reading

When a person dies without a Last Will he is said to have died intestate. The handling of an intestate estate falls under the heading of an administration proceeding as opposed to a probate proceeding when a person dies and leaves a Last Will. The fiduciary of an intestate estate is called an Administrator. The fiduciary of an estate where there is a Will is typically called an Executor. While a Will usually names and identifies the persons who are to be appointed as Executors, there is no such designation by a decedent when there is no Will. As a result, reference must be made to the provisions of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA). Section 1001 of the SCPA provides a list of the decedent’s next of kin and others who have a right to be appointed as the estate administrator. The section is entitled “Order of priority for granting letters of administration”. The statutory list of persons who have the priority of appointment begins with the decedent’s spouse, and then goes to children, grandchildren, parents and more distant relatives. One of the problems encountered with appointing an administrator is that there may be multiple individuals who have the same priority rights to appointment and they may be adverse to each other. These situations typically result in estate litigation in the Surrogate’s Courts where the Court is called upon to decide which person or persons should be appointed as the fiduciary.

Additionally, there are cases where the person who has the priority for appointment as administrator is opposed by other interested parties who may assert that the proposed administrator is not appropriate or is unfit to serve as the estate fiduciary. Continue reading

The Estate Administration process involves many different issues.  A New York Estate Lawyer typically represents a fiduciary, such as an Executor or Administrator, who is responsible for handling these matters.  The collection of the decedent’s assets is always a primary function to be carried out.  Some assets are easy to obtain such as bank accounts and brokerage accounts that are in the name of the decedent. However, many situations arise where the determination and collection of estate assets is extremely difficult and complex.

One area that consistently presents challenges concerns the ownership rights to real estate.  Unfortunately, the names on deeds and title issues regarding prior deed transfers can present immense problems for a fiduciary.  This is compounded by the fact that real estate interests tends to have large values. Therefore, parties with interests adverse to the estate have a tremendous incentive to interfere with or dispute estate ownership rights. Continue reading

A Fiduciary in New York has many duties and obligations. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has posted many articles discussing these matters. Executors, Administrators and Trustees must not breach their fiduciary duties. There are many different obligations. Generally, a fiduciary is held to a very high standard by the Courts. The reason for this view is that a fiduciary is entrusted with a tremendous amount of authority and discretion and is required to act in the best interest of the persons that are to be benefited by the fiduciary’s actions.

A fiduciary’s powers are very extensive. For example, in the case of an estate fiduciary such as an Executor or Administrator, Estates, Powers and Trusts Law (EPTL) Section 11-1.1 entitled “Fiduciaries’ Powers”, sets forth many areas in which the executor or administrator may act. Among the many powers enumerated in the statute is the power to invest estate property, to sell or mortgage property, to settle claims and to pay proper and reasonable estate expenses. In addition, a person’s Last Will or Trust can give a fiduciary powers that are not provided by the statute. Such documents can also limit or direct a fiduciary with respect to the exercise of certain powers. Continue reading

There are many cases in the Surrogate’s Court which involve a Public Administrator. Generally, a Public Administrator is a public official who is given the authority to administer estates where no other person or entity is properly available to act as fiduciary. Article 11 of the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) sets forth provisions regarding such administrators in New York City. For example, SCPA Section 1112 is entitled “Authority to act” and provides that the Public Administrator in a county, such as Kings County or Queens County, can “take charge of the personal property of the intestate” when a decedent dies intestate and there is no known person eligible to receive letters of administration. Continue reading

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