The initial steps that are typically taken with regard to estate settlement concern the appointment of a fiduciary. The fiduciary can be an executor when there is a Last Will and Testament or an Administrator when a person dies intestate.
In order to be appointed by the Surrogate’s Court as a fiduciary a person must meet certain qualifications. Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) section 707 entitled “Eligibility to receive letters” provides basic criteria for a fiduciary. This statute states, in part, that a person is ineligible to receive letters if they are an infant, incompetant or a non-domiciliary alien. Also, a felon is ineligible. The letters that are referred to include Letters Testamentary, Letters of Administration and Letters of Trusteeship. There is an expansive definition of “Letters” in SCPA section 103 (34).
While many individuals may be eligible to receive Letters and be appointed as a fiduciary, there may be additional qualifications that must be met to complete the appointment. SCPA section 708 entitled “Qualification of fiduciaries” provides among other matters, that the appointee obtain a “bond” that may be required by the Court or under the law. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has discussed the issue of Surety Bonds in earlier posts. There may be a requirement by the Court to obtain a Letters of Administration Bond. This is very common.