An executor or administrator of a New York estate has the duty to identify and collect all of the assets belonging to a decedent. These assets include bank accounts, stocks, bonds, retirement accounts such as IRA’s, and real estate. Once these items are collected and the estate bills and claims are paid, a distribution can be made to the estate beneficiaries.
It is not uncommon for fiduciaries to become engaged in estate litigation regarding the collection of assets. Third parties may claim to own items that were obtained from a decedent in wrongful or questionable ways. For example, someone may be the title owner of a bank account or real estate which was transferred to them shortly before the decedent’s death and at a time when the decedent lacked capacity due to illness or injury. The estate administrator or executor may try to recover such assets claiming that the decedent lacked capacity and was unduly influenced at the time of the transfer. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published many articles concerning the recovery of assets by an estate.
There are also instances where a third party may claim that the decedent’s estate is holding property that really belongs to the third party. In these cases the third party owner can commence a proceeding in the Surrogate’s Court under Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) 2105 to recover the items from the estate. SCPA 2105 is entitled “Proceeding to compel delivery of property by a fiduciary which is claimed by another or others”.