One of the benefits from implementing a New York estate plan and preparing a Last Will and Testament is the ability of a testator to select an executor. This option does not exist when a person dies intestate without a Will. In such a situation, the estate administrator is determined pursuant to the estate laws contained in Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act Section 1001 entitled “Order of priority for granting letters of administrations”.
The selection or nomination of an executor, as well as a substitute executor, is a very important aspect of Will preparation. Such person, once appointed by the Surrogate’s Court, is in charge of handling all estate affairs. This includes determining and collecting estate assets, paying expenses, resolving estate claims and liabilities, and ultimately, making distributions to the estate beneficiaries.
An executor is essentially the chief operating officer regarding all aspects of the estate. He must deal with lawsuits concerning the decedent’s affairs and select and interact with accountants and attorneys needed to perform services in furtherance of estate settlement. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published many articles regarding estate fiduciaries and administration issues.
Estates, Powers and Trusts Law Section 11-1.1 entitled “Fiduciaries’ powers” sets forth a list of the types of matters an executor has the authority to handle. This list is not exclusive and powers may be broader depending upon the situation.
As can be imagined, it is essential that a testator give consideration to who should be appointed. Various issues that may affect an estate can require a certain type of person to be in charge. For example, if it is anticipated there will be tensions or disagreements among estate beneficiaries, the testator may consider appointing an independent person who is not receiving any benefit under the Will. It is pointed out that an executor is entitled to receive a commission or payment for acting as the fiduciary. Commissions are established pursuant to SCPA 2307.
The Courts will give great deference to the selection of an executor by a testator. In situations where a beneficiary may want to change a fiduciary because they feel that there are disputes or animosities, the Courts will not agree to such change without some demonstration of wrongdoing by the executor. The Court wants to maintain the intentions of the testator.
There are many cases where the probate of a Will may be delayed due to a Will Contest or kinship issue or other problem. When this occurs, the nominated person can seek to obtain a temporary appointment as a preliminary executor. A preliminary executor has essentially the same authority as a permanent executor except that they cannot make distributions to beneficiaries.
I have represented beneficiaries, executors and other fiduciaries in many types of estate cases, including probate and intestate administration. Call Me Now for a free confidential review of your estate or guardianship matter. We offer reasonable and flexible fee arrangements and personal representation.
New York Trusts and Estates Attorney Jules Martin Haas has helped many clients over the past 40 years resolve issues relating to guardianship and probate and estate settlement throughout New York City including the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Nassau and Suffolk County. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding these matters, please contact me at (212) 355-2575 for an initial free consultation.